Manchester City Council have released their annual ‘State of the City’ report to the public. The report aims to monitor Manchester’s progress as a city by gathering together statistics on life in Manchester such as homelessness, recycling and education. It also details issues directly relevant to students, such as student housing and graduate retention.
Significantly, the report highlighted a growing trend of students moving closer to the city centre, away from the traditional student neighbourhoods of south Manchester, stating: “This migration matches a long-term aim to free up homes in the south of the city, which are in high demand for families, and ensures that students are housed in well-managed accommodation in the right parts of the city.”
The attempt to move students northwards has been used by some to explain the council’s decision to restrict opening hours of bars in the student area of Fallowfield. Recent graduate Robert Firth commented: “The special licensing policy where they’ll basically refuse any new license for bars/venues seems intended to rip the soul out of the area.”
Others were concerned about the quality of property available for families in south Manchester. Jack Swan, a second-year Politics and Sociology student said: “If the Council is genuinely trying to move students out of Fallowfield, then the local families who do move in will be moving into properties owned by private landlords with no guarantee of quality.”
“Manchester City Council ought to be looking into developing new council housing and opening up land for community land trusts, so local residents can move into decent housing managed responsibly, rather than the private sector.”
However, some students noted the positives of a shift towards the city centre, with students in Fallowfield threatened by a notoriously high crime rate, including muggings and burglaries.
The report also discussed the growing population of students in the city, which has been consistent ever since a dip in 2012 following the introduction of higher tuition fees. It stated that “the city’s two main universities (The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University) attracted approximately 73,500 students in 2016/17”, with nearly 48,000 of these living in the city.
The document highlighted the growing number of both graduate and international students in Manchester, citing that they now make up over one in five students enrolled at a university in Manchester. One example is the number of Chinese students in the city, which has increased by 75% over the last five years.
Graduate retention figures were high, with 36% of graduates originally from Manchester choosing to work in the city after leaving university and a further 33% working elsewhere in Greater Manchester. The career direction of graduates was varied, with the report stating:
“Six months after graduating, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) destination of leavers’ 2016/17 survey reported that most degree graduates working in Manchester were employed in the education, health and social work, and professional, scientific and technical sectors.”