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From Citadels of Education to Cartier Latins (and Back?): The Changing Landscapes of Student Populations in European Cities

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Abstract

Student communities are among the most active agents in the transformation of European cities, due to the concurring circumstances of booming international student mobility, the restructuring of university residence patterns, and the acknowledgement of the importance of knowledge assets and creativity for sustainable urban development. This article presents a conceptualisation of emerging student landscapes, especially focusing on the spatial configuration of mobility and activity flows. It is argued that while student landscapes are determined in the first place by the structure of the city and university settlements, they undergo a peculiar dynamic which, in most cases, leads to a decoupling of education spaces and the habitats where students spend the rest of their time. This result may not be the optimal for a sustainable, competitive city. Using evidence from two cities, Barcelona and Lille, our article derives indications for the planning of new higher education facilities and student settlements that may produce more coherent student landscapes.

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