An email received from the city council, followed below by their executive summary of higher education’s effects on Canterbury:
You are invited to take part in a consultation regarding the impact of Higher and Further Education on the Canterbury District. The full report and a summary document can be found on the council’s website and you can take part in the consultation in the following ways:
1. Take part in an interactive online consultation – comments can also be made on Twitter using #canterburyhefe
2. Feedback views on the report’s recommendations by taking part in an online questionnaire
3. Come along to a drop-in consultation day between 8.30am and 8.30pm on Tuesday 29 November at Northgate Community Centre, where council officers will be available to answer questions and hear views
Please could I ask for your help in promoting the consultation to your networks.
Please note that the consultation closes on Monday 19 December and the report and comments will be considered by Community Committee on Wednesday 25 January 2017.
Impact on the economy and housing market This review has examined the impact that the University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University, University for Creative Arts and Canterbury College have on the Canterbury District. Over the last ten years, student numbers have grown by 19 per cent (about 4,750 students). In line with national trends, numbers peaked in 2010-2011 reaching 30,795 but by 2014-2015, numbers had dropped to 29,392 students studying at the three university campuses in the district. Last year, around 16,000 students became new Canterbury residents when they moved here to study. The universities hope to grow student numbers back to 2010-2011 levels.
Four of the top ten employers in the district are associated with higher education which makes it a very important sector to the district’s economy. Higher education jobs tend to be professional, highly skilled and well paid. In 2009, about 6,000 of the district’s employees worked in higher education, this rose to 7,800 by 2014 and is still growing. The presence of higher education meant that the district’s economy remained resilient during the recession. Interestingly, when student numbers fell, there was still a positive impact on the economy as the number of higher education jobs contributed to growth. It’s estimated that about 3,300 jobs and £909 million of the local economy value is due to the presence of the universities.
Having three universities and Canterbury College in the city is also good for local shops and tourism, not just in terms of spending by students and staff, but also from visiting friends and family. The University of Kent is the largest conference venue in the South East offering bed & breakfast and self-catered holidays when students are not around. In 2016, it took bookings for 140,000 bed nights over a 13 week period. The most that the rest of the city can accommodate is 219,000 across a whole year.
Students are also an important part of the local labour-force with around 8,000 full-time students working in the district. Students also support local public and voluntary services, for example, at Canterbury Christ Church University thousands of nurses, social workers, teachers and police officers have worked in health, education and policing services whilst studying. In 2014-2015 there were 300 placements in schools and 700 students in local health care services.
The universities also support local businesses through their use of local suppliers providing a range of goods and services. For example, Canterbury Christ Church University has over 139 local suppliers spending over £5,000 which equates to about £8 million spend a year. There has also been significant investment in buildings by the universities and college with over £500 million being invested in their estates over the last ten years. The review recommends that opportunities for further local spending be explored and encouraged.
There are around 7,557 Purpose Built Student Accommodation bedrooms in the city that are home to 45 per cent of students who have moved to Canterbury to study. The city area of Canterbury has a much higher proportion of private rented accommodation than the rest of the district. There are about 4,800 private rented homes in the city of which around 3,800 are occupied by students. Renting and buying a property is more expensive in Canterbury than most other areas of East Kent. On average it is £55,000 more expensive to buy and £54 more per week to rent. This is partly due to desirability of Canterbury as a place to live but also due to the demand for student housing. The review found that the affordability of housing is a concern for new and existing residents.
Impact on community
living Canterbury is a relatively small city and like many other smaller university towns and cities, life in areas with many student residents can become strained from time to time. We estimate that 9,000 students live away from university’s campus in shared rented houses in areas close to the universities. In 2011, 21 per cent of households in St Stephen’s ward were student households but the St Michaels Road Area Residents Association estimates it can be as high as 41 per cent in some streets. The review has shone a light on what it is like to live in such an area and the opportunities to improve the environment for everyone there.
Problems with overflowing bins and unkempt gardens are often more prevalent in accommodation where the homeowner is not resident and where there are high numbers of shared housing. We found that landlords advertise their homes for rent using lettings boards, which many residents, think make student-rich areas look unattractive and a target for criminals.
Community cohesion can be challenging in communities with higher levels of transience and turnover. According to the council’s 2016 residents’ survey, people living in student-rich communities are less likely to feel part of the community than those living elsewhere in the district. Only 25 per cent of residents in student-rich communities said they felt part of their community compared with 43 per cent in the city area of Canterbury and 67 per cent in Whitstable.
Noise complaints in Canterbury are four times higher than in Whitstable and two and half times higher than in Herne Bay. Testimonials from residents’ shows that this can have a serious impact on their daily lives with noise from parties, people passing by and general anti-social behaviour in student rich areas. The review also found that in recent years, the universities have done a great deal in the community to help reduce the level of noise and nuisance to residents. Initiatives: such as the very popular Street Marshal scheme, improvements to the ways to complain about the behaviour of students and better liaison with people living in student-rich areas.
Students gave over a quarter of a million volunteering hours in 2014-2015 alone and supported many local groups and charities including Porchlight, Catching Lives, Pilgrims Hospice and SNAAP to name but a few, making a positive impact on the lives of some of the districts’ most vulnerable residents.
The overall conclusions
The presence of the universities is crucial to our economy and for the district’s future growth and prosperity and all partners must work to build on strengths and opportunities. Everyone must also play their part in preventing or reducing any negative impact of people’s daily lives. Landlords, students, residents, the university and others will work together to have a strong voice and closely monitor the impact of being a university city and ensure that the 32 recommendations contained in this report are implemented.
We will work together to implement the 32 actions in this report including:
More and better coordinated support for those residents whose daily lives are affected by living in student-rich neighbourhoods.
Making the most of the presence of the universities and college by encouraging more businesses to locate here through marketing, boosting workspace building and supporting start-ups.
Encouraging more spending the local economy through the universities buying more goods and services locally and through encouraging visitors who are only here because of the universities to spend more and stay longer.
That the council give better consideration to the quality and affordability of housing for students.
The council making full use of its powers to deter littering, noise, waste problems and finding ways to remove lettings boards.