|M.Sc Student||Naor Chen|
|Subject||Studentification in Peripherals Communities in Israel:|
Socio-Spatial Relationships between College
Students and Local Residents
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisors||Professor Emeritus Naomi Carmon|
|Dr. Yosef Jabareen|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
The term studentification describes social, cultural, economic and environmental changes that occur in a residential area, as a result of a large presence of students who rent places to live in the private housing market, not far from their academic institution. The phenomenon was defined in the beginning of the twenty-first century in Great Britain, following conflicts that erupted between local residents and students in many university towns. Since then, research on this topic has steadily developed in many countries, but not in Israel, in spite of its growing numbers of students and colleges.
This research examined the phenomenon in the Israeli context and focused on regions in the geographical periphery of the country, specifically, in the regions of Sapir College in the northwestern Negev and Tel-Hai College in the Upper Galilee. Its goals were: (a) to characterize the students and their residences located in the areas of the colleges, while distinguishing between the town and the rural communities in each region; (b) to examine the relations between the students and the local residents; and (c) to identify the implications of the students’ residences on the socio-spatial environment. The overall purpose of the study was to understand whether the students contribute to their environment and are a ‘blessing’ for the residents, or whether their presence in the communities is a source of problems and conflicts.
Since this is a pioneering study on the topic, a flexible research design was needed. It included a variety of instruments: analysis of statistical data and informal electronic media; administration of questionnaires to students and their analysis using common statistical tools; observations; interviews and conversations with local residents and leaders; and a telephone interview with local officials.
The findings showed that many students preferred living in the rural communities, in spite of their distance from the colleges, located near the towns of Kiriyat Shemona and Sderot. The implications connected to the students’ living arrangements in the different communities are mainly positive, a result which differs from findings in international studies on the topic. Among the reasons behind the positive implications: the students came from a higher socio-economic class than the local community (especially in the towns); they were perceived as being a quality population, a desirable social elite; many of the students rented units that were adjacent to the housing of the leaser, and as a result, joint interests were created for maintaining good neighborly relations. Another reason was connected to the volunteer work of the students in the community.
This study contributes to the existing knowledge by examining the phenomenon in the Israeli context that has rarely been researched; it presents and characterizes a new concept - rural studentification. Furthermore, it points to a unique way of coping with the phenomenon from the perspective of local and national authorities. The study also includes recommendations for public policy and for the practice of planning of student housing in the vicinity of institutions of higher learning.