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Nottingham's Forest Of Housing Despair

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Another in the Guardian's BTL series

What interested me most was how BTL in college towns is driven by student demand, and how the transience of those populations are destroying the host communities. Planning a massive increase in student numbers without building special-purpose accommodation was clearly not a wise thing to do.

The ironic thing is that those students then graduate and find that the properties they would like to buy have all gone, a process they have funded through their student debt and that then pushes them into even more mortgage debt! Here's hoping these degrees (still being newly-minted in aromatherapy or whatever) turn out to have been worth it.

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In Leeds there's virtually open warfare going on between the students' unions and local politicians. It's the usual story - student numbers are rising thanks to the government's 50% participation target (especially at Leeds Met), but the supply of accommodation isn't. One councillor has openly called for a ban on any new HMO permissions in Headingley, which is already pretty much a student city as things are. SU leaders claim that this is illegal and amounts to discrimination, and are threatening court action. I've already heard parents at open days tell me that they like the sound of the course we're offering, but would be reluctant to encourage their children to apply here due to the very high cost of accommodation. We're already seeing a large increase in the number of students who stay living with their parents while studying - mainly in the post-92 universities at present, but I'm sure this will spread to the traditional ones before long.

Edited by The Ayatollah Bugheri

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One councillor has openly called for a ban on any new HMO permissions in Headingley, which is already pretty much a student city as things are.

You may want to have them shot; HMO licensing has only worsened things, and banning new HMO licenses would just make things even worse. In 2000/2001 some friends and I looked at putting someone in the living room of a house to make the rent cheaper. In 2003/4, we had an empty room in our house because the place wasn't licensable. All HMO does is to reduce the available housing for everyone.

The core problem is the government's insistence that dramatically more people should be getting degrees. We don't have the infrastructure, or jobs, to deal with this, and they need to stop driving numbers up, and instead focus on providing apprenticeship programs for people blatantly not suited to what is a THEORY-BASED qualification rather than a PRACTICAL one.

Rant finished, thanks for listening.

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I used to live near some purpose build student accomadation. Secure parking (extra £10 a week I think) but room and broadband for about 85 quid. Not bad when you consider some of the scuzzy private places available.

But still dear imo.

And when student numbers decline what'll happen to these buildings?

And why are they only for students? For kids also leaving home who want to move away they're an easy move into learning how to manage the bills they'd be interesting accomadation.

Sadly they'd be far too expensive I think.

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There actually seems to have been a bit of a reversal of the student accommodation situation here in The Sheffield.

Although great swathes of our proud and pleasant city are still infested by the unwashed little blighters, there seems to be loads of new purpose built student accommodation which could actually result in landlords struggling to fill their houses.

No doubt second and third year students will still yearn for the independence of living in their own little palace to consume pot noodles whilst amusing themselves with traffic cones and other road safety devices.

Still, every little helps.

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The core problem is the government's insistence that dramatically more people should be getting degrees. We don't have the infrastructure, or jobs, to deal with this, and they need to stop driving numbers up, and instead focus on providing apprenticeship programs for people blatantly not suited to what is a THEORY-BASED qualification rather than a PRACTICAL one.

Rant finished, thanks for listening.

Surely everyone has the right to study for degrees. My kids WANT degrees not apprenticeships. I took an apprenticeship in the 80's in hot metal printing. Absolutely no good whatsoever now. Wish I did a degree.

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Surely everyone has the right to study for degrees. My kids WANT degrees not apprenticeships. I took an apprenticeship in the 80's in hot metal printing. Absolutely no good whatsoever now. Wish I did a degree.

If 50% of the population gets a degree, and universities reduce standards and expand into all kinds of weird areas to achieve that, what does it mean any more? Consider that planned aromatherapy degree I mentioned above. What earthly use is that going to be? If 50% were to get solid numerate degrees it would be different.

You were unfortunate in that your apprenticeship was overtaken so quickly by technology (though perhaps you gleaned quite a bit about typography and page design that could still be relevant?) but there's still strong demand for trades that are essentially about manipulating stuff, rather than stuff that represents information, and so are more resilient against the digital assault. You're not going to see a computer doing blacksmithing, roofing or plumbing any time soon.

But anyway, to get back on topic, universities should have built more accommodation. Expecting communities to somehow absorb this ever-changing student population was grossly unfair. As touched on by earlier posters, student numbers are likely to fall in future, so the accommodation needed to be flexible enough to be put to other uses.

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If 50% of the population gets a degree, and universities reduce standards and expand into all kinds of weird areas to achieve that, what does it mean any more? Consider that planned aromatherapy degree I mentioned above. What earthly use is that going to be? If 50% were to get solid numerate degrees it would be different.

You were unfortunate in that your apprenticeship was overtaken so quickly by technology (though perhaps you gleaned quite a bit about typography and page design that could still be relevant?) but there's still strong demand for trades that are essentially about manipulating stuff, rather than stuff that represents information, and so are more resilient against the digital assault. You're not going to see a computer doing blacksmithing, roofing or plumbing any time soon.

But anyway, to get back on topic, universities should have built more accommodation. Expecting communities to somehow absorb this ever-changing student population was grossly unfair. As touched on by earlier posters, student numbers are likely to fall in future, so the accommodation needed to be flexible enough to be put to other uses.

Degrees are useless. End of :P

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universities should have built more accommodation. Expecting communities to somehow absorb this ever-changing student population was grossly unfair.

It is. So why don't people go to the ones nearest them. More people could stay at home and live more cheaply.

Oh lots more are doing this these days through choice for financial reasons.

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Another in the Guardian's BTL series

What interested me most was how BTL in college towns is driven by student demand, and how the transience of those populations are destroying the host communities. Planning a massive increase in student numbers without building special-purpose accommodation was clearly not a wise thing to do.

Thanks for the link. A very interesting read.

I was making my way though the area of Nottingham they mention to the uni's conference centre last week and the streets around looked like a warzone - abandoned furniture, litter etc. Really scruffy.

What I don't understand is that some years ago Nottingham authorities acknowledged the detrimental affect student enclaves had on those private owners left in the streets and started building accomodation aimed at students in the city centre.

I'm assuming they're not building it fast enough!

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It is. So why don't people go to the ones nearest them. More people could stay at home and live more cheaply.

Universities are not like schools - they have differing strengths and specialities, and as institutions some are more highly regarded than others. If you live in West Devon or Cornwall and want to study medicine, going to your nearest university isn't an option. If you live in Yorkshire and want to study aeronautical engineering, the local options are regarded in the industry as being inferior to, say, Bristol or UCL.

Nevertheless, increasing numbers of students - mainly the weaker ones, who don't get the 'A' level grades needed to get in at a Russell Group or ancient university - are living at home and attending a local institution, the main reason being money.

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Surely everyone has the right to study for degrees. My kids WANT degrees not apprenticeships. I took an apprenticeship in the 80's in hot metal printing. Absolutely no good whatsoever now. Wish I did a degree.

Well, no, not really. I mean, if your kids are bright, and getting good grades at school, and want to go into a career where a degree make sense, then I wish them the very best. However, the idea that 50% of the population are suited to degrees is ridiculous. All that happens is it's devaluing degrees, meaning that all jobs now want a degree, irrespective of whether one is actually required, further driving people towards degrees. At the same time, an increasing number of graduates can't find jobs, as the market is flooded with people with degrees.

I'm sympathetic that your apprenticeship didn't help you now, but equally do you think a degree in philosophy is going to be useful? The real issue is that there was no support to retrain you when that career path went away.

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Consider that planned aromatherapy degree I mentioned above. What earthly use is that going to be? If 50% were to get solid numerate degrees it would be different.

I got a first degree in biochemistry just when cloining and DNA sequencing were becoming real possibilities then a PhD in advanced simulation and statistics. Absolutley no use whatsoever - complete waste of 8 years. I fear that kids who are entering University may never see a return on their investment unless they get a job in the City.

Solving the student housing problem is easy - just halve the number of University places to the level they used to be, make it very competitive and give out decent scholarships to those that cannot afford it - but only on courses that lead to proper academic degrees.

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The social fabric of Lenton and Dunkirk(Nottingham)have been altered by the rise in student numbers.However,the article does not mention the fact that house prices in these two areas have fallen off a cliff in the last two years.I wouldn't be surprised if Dunkirk was the house price crash epicentre of the entire country within a city which is the housepricecrash capital of the country.

Since the building of high rise new build student flats ,especially in neighbouring Beeston, the market has simply collapsed through over-supply.Walk along the main road in Dunkirk from Tennis Centre and you will see row upon row of for sale signs, by the time you have got to the Clifton roundabout you suddenly release that not a single property is sold.You have got more chance of being run over by the number five bus than sell a house along that stretch.

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You may want to have them shot; HMO licensing has only worsened things, and banning new HMO licenses would just make things even worse. In 2000/2001 some friends and I looked at putting someone in the living room of a house to make the rent cheaper. In 2003/4, we had an empty room in our house because the place wasn't licensable. All HMO does is to reduce the available housing for everyone.

The core problem is the government's insistence that dramatically more people should be getting degrees. We don't have the infrastructure, or jobs, to deal with this, and they need to stop driving numbers up, and instead focus on providing apprenticeship programs for people blatantly not suited to what is a THEORY-BASED qualification rather than a PRACTICAL one.

Rant finished, thanks for listening.

Agreed. Although the cynic inside me says that having 50% of the young in University studying advanced sandwich making, David Beckham Studies, etc, is a great way of keeping the unemployment figures down.

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There actually seems to have been a bit of a reversal of the student accommodation situation here in The Sheffield.

Although great swathes of our proud and pleasant city are still infested by the unwashed little blighters, there seems to be loads of new purpose built student accommodation which could actually result in landlords struggling to fill their houses.

No doubt second and third year students will still yearn for the independence of living in their own little palace to consume pot noodles whilst amusing themselves with traffic cones and other road safety devices.

Still, every little helps.

Actually most students want to live in Halls for their 2nd and 3rd years but cant. Usually this is because of lack of availability and the fact that most Universities and the private developers they farm their accommodation out to charge much more than a normal student can pay for more than their first year.

Finding digs is a terrible hassle, you have to arrange reliable share mates, find somewhere that suits everyone, everyone and their parents have to pass credit checks, pay deposits at the end of the year when theyre most broke and then begin paying rent throughout the summer when theyre not living there anyway. Landlords then proceed to treat you like scum who should be killed off as quickly as possible by carbon monoxide - and I never heard of anyone getting their deposits back even if they do survive to the end of the tenancy!

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If 50% of the population gets a degree, and universities reduce standards and expand into all kinds of weird areas to achieve that, what does it mean any more? Consider that planned aromatherapy degree I mentioned above. What earthly use is that going to be? If 50% were to get solid numerate degrees it would be different.

There may be crossover skills, ie customer facing skills to be learn't. Working in a personal business where you have to deal with customers face to face, is one way of staying employed while all the other jobs are being outsourced oversea's (though as the authors of "Fantasy Island" pointed out, the Chinese are unlikely to pop over for hair cuts).

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Surely everyone has the right to study for degrees. My kids WANT degrees not apprenticeships. I took an apprenticeship in the 80's in hot metal printing. Absolutely no good whatsoever now. Wish I did a degree.

Ordinarily I would agree with you, but we must accept that people are not the same; some are better at understanding theories and their limitations whilst others are better at using technical skills to solve problems. We constantly tell ourselves that we should be glad of our differences yet the government seems to want to insist that EVERYONE, regardless of aptitude has the RIGHT to go to university. Surely we should be trying to encourage the skills and talents which come naturally to each of us? After all if you insist that everyone should be going to university this must surely drag the level down for everyone which benefits NO-ONE. Perhaps society should work towards appreciating all manner of jobs, no matter how 'trivial' they may seem (McJobs come to mind), instead of placing undue appreciation for those lawyers and bankers rather than those cleaners, health care support workers and plumbers. Part of the problem is this perpetuated lie that having a degree is a path to riches. Trust me, that isn't the case....

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and I never heard of anyone getting their deposits back even if they do survive to the end of the tenancy!

I got back my deposit in full each year, no problems.* So now you've heard of someone.

*although in my second year we hadn't realised that the housemate paying the bills hadn't given a reading to the electricity company for the entire tenancy - ten months of underestimates and there went the deposit. But the landlord didn't keep it. Fortunately. :)

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(though as the authors of "Fantasy Island" pointed out, the Chinese are unlikely to pop over for hair cuts).

In the last six months, the price of hair cuts at the cheap-and-cheerful barber here has gone up from 7.50 to 9.50. If that continues, I doubt many guys will be 'popping over' there anymore no matter what their nationality; just shave it off every few months at home.

Actually, that may explain why I was able to walk right in a couple of weeks ago and get cut straight away, whereas a few years back when it was half that price there was always a queue...

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