Mark Holton Lecture

30 April 2019
Fox Lecture Hall, Arts Building, UWA
General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni

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Student Accomodation tower Perth

UniverCities: Investigating the influence of student accommodation on global cities

A public lecture by Dr Mark Holton, Lecturer in Human Geography, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth and UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

Accommodating university students has become one of the most pervasive forms of contemporary urban change, with increasingly mobile networks of higher education students altering, beyond recognition, the landscape of UniverCities – cities that host universities – across the world. This is particularly pertinent in relation to how students access and engage with institutions and their term-time host communities and initial UK and US-centric studies in the 1990s and 2000s sought to understand how students’ lifestyles might re-shape residential neighbourhoods. More recently, and as a response to increasingly neoliberalised global higher education networks, the appetite for student accommodation provisions has become somewhat ‘vertical’. This is witnessed in UniverCities across the world through the proliferation of large-scale purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) developments that package and marketise ‘student experiences’ through high quality hotel-style living. Drawing on an analysis of PBSA-sector literature that compares various global histories and contexts of student accommodation provision, this lecture recognises Australia specifically as an important emerging contender in the globalised higher education market – a location where domestic students predominantly live at home but that is witnessing increasing internationalisation. This literature has identified some of Australia’s main achievements in this sector to be the initiation of effective branding of PBSA developments and recognising students as a sophisticated consumer group. A key message here for other emergent and established PBSA markets is that increasing investment into the quality and accessibility of higher education institutions through strategic partnerships, developing overseas recruitment strategies and increasing student accommodation provision is fundamental in increasing the appeal of a UniverCity as a global education destination.

Dr Mark Holton's research on student geographies explores themes of identity, belonging and embodiment, with a particular focus on students’ term-time accommodation. He has recently co-authored a monograph entitled ‘Everyday Mobile Belonging: Theorising Higher Education Student Mobilities’ (Bloomsbury Academic), alongside Dr Kirsty Finn from the University of Glasgow. Dr Holton’s most recent funded project, entitled ‘PlymTour’, saw him design a mobile walking tour app intended to familiarise new students with areas of Plymouth which has been recognised by the University of Plymouth as a key induction tool for incoming first year students. Dr Holton has been invited to give guest lectures at the Society for Research into Higher Education (London, UK), Loughborough University (UK) and Jiaotong University (Xi’an, China) and is the co-organiser of the bi-annual International Conference on Migration and Mobilities series.