A new Government report has identified the problem of "studentification" in neighbourhoods and towns. Neighbourhoods popular with students often empty during the summer, leaving local shops with three lean months a year and often catering mainly for a student market (takeaway anyone?). Furthermore, streets with many student residences often become scruffy and neglected, damaging relationships with local residents and businesses further.
To combat this, the government is looking to create more varied neighbourhoods, to avoid the student ghettos which are created. Suggestions being implemented around the country vary from building more purpose built student accommodation, to restricting the number of Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs). The aim is to "blend the student populations into well mixed neighbourhoods", according to Housing Minister Caroline Flint.
Whilst London has not suffered from studentification as much as university towns such as Nottingham and Leeds (both having their populations increased by arround 10% due to university students), certain parts of London have been favoured by Imperial students. If HMOs are restricted, Imperial students may have to look further than a flat in West Kensington or Hammersmith for their private accommodation.
The NUS has opposed the plan. Wes Streeting, NUS President, believes that "added bureaucracy will discourage landlords from the HMO market". With the student debt level now averaging £17,500, students are often forced to seek out the cheapest available properties. It is feared that any further restrictions on landlords will lead to price rises as larger properties are restricted to fewer tenants. Some areas may become deviod of student housing altogether. With the student population due to rise in line with government targets, the problem is not likely to solve itself anytime soon.