How can strengthening national education systems improve enrollment rates?

Education system strength – How can the governments invest in improving national higher education systems to achieve higher enrolment rates? By Andreas Chrysanthou Stimulating the national higher education system and understanding the implications of relevant policies and investment is crucial for national governments to improve the overall enrolment rates of local and international students. The […]

Spain Regional Session – A Recap

Spain has long been a destination for tourists and students alike, and its appeal is only growing. The number of students in the country has been rising steadily with a strong growth in the number of international students, both study abroad and full-degree seeking: a boon for a country with an aging population. As such, […]

How do the costs of living affect the inflow of international students?

A Statistical analysis from 300 EU Universities What are the main channels to promote a country’s educational system overseas to attract a higher number of international students? What makes a study destination popular and how does a student pick a study destination? Several factors can be identified, such as the reputation of a country’s educational […]

An Italian Landscape of Opportunities

The Italian student housing market is notably different from others. A lack of English taught courses continues to be the biggest barrier to internationalisation of its education, and regional divides hinder investments into student housing. Nonetheless, we still see growing interest in both Italian higher education and the Italian student housing market. After all, students […]


At The Class of 2020 we have worked extensively towards our goal to provide a more open, professional, and effective student housing market. Whilst working with investors, developers, and university officials it has become clear that to achieve our objective, the strategic business and planning sides must be paired with providing practical skills and tools […]

Accommodation issues limiting Ireland’s international student growth

The Class of 2020 kicked off this year’s regional sessions with an event in Dublin on Thursday April 6th that brought together key stakeholders of the Irish student housing. The current state and direction of Ireland’s thriving student housing market was discussed in two panels, one with the most prominent student housing investors and operators, […]

Student housing: investor safe haven in a political storm

What was once considered niche, has been reported as the number one choice for investors, according to the latest “emerging trends in real estate” report by PWC and ULI. As the leading think tank in student living in Europe, The Class of 2020’s presence at MIPIM used to be a bit curious. Four years ago, […]

City-University Cooperation and Talent Attraction: How Globalisation Can Build Local Communities

By Manu Moritz

The international competition for talent is at an all-time high. In this article, we explore how global forces and an outward focus by both cities and universities may in fact lead to building stronger local communities.

Globalisation. Neoliberalism. These are buzz words that have been thrown around for years now to describe the new economic, political and social world order. Defined by a greater and faster global flow of goods, services, and people, cities are now more than ever in an aggressive rat race to attract global resources and remain relevant. Perhaps the most valuable of these ‘resources’ is talent. Given the growing international competition among city-regions and universities, the need for greater city-university cooperation to build and maintain a competitive edge is at an all-time high. This is even more relevant due to the recent, rapid internationalization of student populations, with students seeking out universities and city environments that best meet their academic, career, and lifestyle goals. As such, questions are raised regarding how the relationship between cities and their universities can be leveraged to optimise attracting and retaining this globally ‘footloose’ talent.

It is well-known that universities act as tremendous growth-poles for the city-regions they are in. Likewise, economically and culturally attractive cities help draw students from afar to local universities. This is a natural synergy, but it is also one that can be cultivated to bring in the additional talent that cities and universities actively seek.  

However, the successful collaborations between a city and its universities are much more than the direct economic benefits between the two (i.e. spin-offs, knowledge transfer, etc.). Rather, universities represent a local, yet fiercely independent, academic community within their city-region. Their ability to provide unique and valuable amenities to the city around them, but also their need for city life and services, puts universities in a crucial position within the urban realm. As such, universities should be recognised and treated as the local institutions that they are; they should be treated as a part of the community, a member which can help drive forms of socially (and environmentally) beneficial urban growth. In return, the city becomes a much more welcoming and integrated part of the life of the university, directly benefitting not just the students and staff studying and working there, but also becoming a more attractive place for new talent.

A positive ‘town-gown’ relationship is something cities and universities should strive for anyway, yet it may be that it is external, global forces that influence it in the places it does not exist. Thus, while globalisation may have led to a dis-embedding of cities and universities from their local preconditions, it may also inevitably be what motivates bringing these two together more than ever before.