Students’ sense of community ‘on the slide’, research suggests

Pressure of higher fees and rise in en-suite accommodation blamed

August 2, 2014

Students’ sense of cohesion and community in accommodation at university is on the wane, with more than one in three failing to form close friendships with those they live with, according to new research.

The rise of en-suite and studio accommodation, and the increasing pressures of work since the introduction of higher fees, have been put forward as possible explanations.

Red Brick Research, an analysis firm, looked at responses to its National Student Housing Survey and found that less than half (47 per cent) of those living in university accommodation felt a strong sense of community in where they lived.

In private halls this proportion fell to 39 per cent, while in private rented accommodation it was only a third.

Tim Daplyn, managing director of Red Brick Research, said: “We’ve seen a steady decline in students’ sense of community and social cohesion since we began measuring in 2011.

“While forming lasting friendships in your accommodation was once the norm and a rite of passage for students, the increasing prevalence of en-suite accommodation and studio flats has left students more isolated than before”.

He continued: “We’ve also seen an increasing focus on academic achievement since the introduction of increased tuition fees, and a desire to ‘get the most out’ of the university experience which leaves less time for relaxation and casual social interaction.”

One in four students said that they never cook with others or share cooking, while 44 per cent of those living in halls thought they would share accommodation in the future with their hall-mates.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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