Written by Alexis Krachai, Managing Director
Students. They are everywhere. Throwing up in the street. Marauding around town. Putting cones on cars. Perhaps worst of all, the traffic is so much busier when the universities come back from the summer.
When I moved back to Sheffield 10 years ago, those were the views I heard the most. I had similar feelings when I was woken up again at 3am on hearing the ‘kids’ stumbling home from the night out at the Union or West Street. As I’ve grown older two things have become clear: firstly, the old stereotype of students is wrong; most are up all night working, not drinking. Secondly, students mean big business for our city and our economy.
There are now over 65,000 students who call Sheffield home each year. They bring money to spend in our shops, pubs and clubs. They bring the demand for high-quality city centre accommodation which supports our property industry. Most of the cranes you see on the horizon are there because new student accommodation is being built around our city centre. You hear some people say we are building too much, they are wrong. Developers are not stupid. They are building more and more student flats because more and more students want to come and study in Sheffield.
Together our two universities employ 12,000 people. That workforce makes a huge contribution to the city’s economic wellbeing. Individually and together, both universities help fund some of our most popular events.
The importance of students to Sheffield and our wider economy has other impacts which are less obvious. Many of the retailers keen to open in the city centre are attracted to Sheffield because we have so many international students here in the city. If you go on the train to Manchester or Leeds at the weekend you can see our students coming back with bags full of clothes and electronics. Retailers want to be in Sheffield so they can sell to students directly here in our city centre.
The growth of student city centre living has also impacted positively on local communities. Ten years ago, rows and rows of houses were student properties. First time buyers had to compete with student landlords to get on the housing market. Nowadays the students live in purpose built city centre accommodation. The benefit? More houses are available, and I get woken up less!