Monday, July 05, 2004

A new word for the Urban Oasis lexicon

Check it out.

Word of the Week Archive
studentification noun [U]
the social and environmental changes caused by very large numbers of students living in particular areas of a town or city

‘Students have officially been identified as the new scourge of Britain’s towns and cities in a study blaming “studentification” for a string of social evils … They include destroying respectable neighbourhoods by driving out families, triggering rat infestations, causing vandalism and forcing the closure of corner shops in favour of tatty burger bars and cheap off-licences.”
(The Observer, July 2002)

The massive expansion of higher education in Britain over the last decade has given rise to a new piece of terminology. Studentification refers to the process of social, environmental and economic change effected by large numbers of students invading particular areas of the cities and towns in which popular universities are located. Studentification is consistently viewed as a negative concept, used in the same context as phrases such as ‘student ghetto’. It describes the rapid conversion of shopping and residential areas to suit the student market, such as the proliferation of take-away food outlets and cheap alcohol retailers, and the conversion of larger residential properties into so-called ‘HMOs’ (houses in multiple occupancy). Studentification has social and economic consequences also, illustrated by the rapid decrease in school class sizes as families move out of such areas, and the sharp increase in house prices as landlords create a property boom.

Though originating in Britain, studentification has also recently been adopted in American English to refer to similar problems arising from the over-population of many US ‘College Towns’.

The term studentification was coined by analogy with gentrification, a term used in the 1960s to refer to a middle-class invasion of areas which were formerly thought of as run-down, thereby causing the displacement of many working-class families. Among the first to use the term studentification was Dr Darren Smith of the School of Environment at the University of Brighton, who in 2002 undertook a groundbreaking study of the phenomenon in the Headingley area of Leeds. Smith argues that, with appropriate planning strategies, studentification could in fact have a positive impact in the regeneration of particularly undesirable areas.

Though the verb gentrify exists, there is as yet no substantial evidence for an analogous verb studentify or participle adjective studentified.


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