Where do your students come from in the UK? And why would you want to know?

So you might be thinking, "this is just an easier way to look at where students move from and to each year". And you'd be right.

David Kernohan is Deputy Editor of Wonkhe

I’ve been trying to answer this question using various data sources, but this is another representation of what I found from the ONS internal migration estimates and plotted on maps here.

[Note, as the Covid data was historical, and an updated version is not available at this resolution, I’ve deleted the Covid component from these visualisations. You can use these plots as a way into understanding UK internal migration among 18 year olds in England and Wales. 

Where do students come from?

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This one is a little special as I’ve coloured the bars using the Covid-19 cumulative lab confirmed cases rate from the gov.uk dashboards. The latest data available is from Tuesday. It’s not a perfect measure (there is an administrative geography strangeness around Buckinghamshire (do please email me for further ill-tempered rants about administrative geography in datasets…).

But if you are in a provider in, say, Birmingham should you not already be preparing for a large number of students coming from a place like Leicester with a high likelihood of being Covid-19 carriers? Should you not have a regular eye on regional flare ups as we approach the start of term wherever you are based?

Where do they go?

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I’m very much hoping that individual universities have more detailed data that could underpin graphs like these on a much finer grained basis. The painful reality that there will be Covid-19 hotspots in early September means that there will need to be careful thought given to which students end up in which accommodation and which study bubble.

For example students who are or have been shielding because of an underlying condition should probably not be sharing a bubble with otherwise healthy students from a Covid hotspot. It’s unclear what a provider is expected to do with students from areas where coronavirus is rising – would they live and work together? With students from other areas with a similar risk?

Of course, universities have limited control over this. Second and third year undergraduates will already have organised accommodation for the 2020-21 academic year, most likely in a student house of multiple occupancy (HMO) somewhere in a university town. There’s some plots as to where these spaces might be at the bottom of this article. As Jim and I note, data on this is not great (even at provider level). It needs to get better.

One response to “Where do your students come from in the UK? And why would you want to know?

  1. Buckinghamshire became a single authority on 1 April 2000 (replacing South Bucks, Chiltern, Wycombe, Aylesbury Vale). That probably broke it.

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