Where’s home for you, student?

So it’s the time of the year where all students pack up their lives from their university home to come home for the summer. But wait, which ‘home’ is actually home for students?

My friends and I find ourselves having conversations of “I’m going home” “which home?” “Home home”. Across my university life so far I have found some of my friends base themselves at uni and would call that their home whereas others would still call their childhood home their home. For me most importantly home is where my family are. This is actually a very interesting topic in demography and one that I have enjoyed studying the past semester in a module (demo2005) called ‘population processes in the developed world’. 

Internal migration is a lot more common than international migration. In the year ending June 2013 there were 2.8 million internal migrants in England and Wales (ONS, 2014).  According to Cf. Ravensteins first migration law a vast amount of internal migration occurs over short distances. In addition, his seventh law displays that most internal migration occurs in the young population. Firstly, before the age of 5 when families move for different catchment areas for schools and then more dominantly when young adults are moving to university.  However, Students moving residence are often late to/don’t register at GPs, particularly men, as we are commonly fit and healthy so are less likely to need medical assistance. This hinders how the ONS (office of national statistics) calculates the internal migration of students and leads to misrepresentation across areas of young adults.  For example, you could be living in London for the whole three years of your university course but the ONS could still have you down as living in a little village in Cornwall. 

ONS is the UKs largest independent producer of official statistics-http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/index.html. They are responsible for producing annual mid-year estimates of the resident population of England and Wales. It’s scary how much ONS knows about our daily routines but it’s all to benefit the society around us. Yesterday when you brought that bus ticket into town, yeah ONS knows. But unlike registering births and deaths bring a requirement of the law there is no legal obligation to record a change of address in the UK. Therefore, the ONS uses a combination of administrative data sources in England and Wales to record internal migration: 

  • Patient register data service (PRDS). 
  • National health service central register (NHSCR).
  • Higher education statistics agency (HESA) – recently added in May 2010.

This recent data source ‘HESA’ has been able to overcome the problem with the undercount of students. HESA data includes records for students registered at a higher education establishment and includes both term time and domicile address variables. Adjustments are made for first year students moving to higher education establishments and third year students moving away afterwards.  

In addition, a pilot project with the ONS/Southampton investigated the potential of big data in social media to support official statistics. It explored the potential of geo-located Twitter data to gain new insights into mobility trends. This was particularly aimed at locating patterns of students and the young population who are more likely to be active on Twitter. The results displayed huge differences in volume of internal migration amongst students across different areas of the UK and the academic year. Internal migration was highest in September when starting the year and again in June when finishing.

Where do you think the ONS thinks your home is? Do you class yourself as an internal migrant?


2 Comments Add yours

  1. kateevery says:

    This is really interesting! I’d say I’m an internal migrant, I’ve stuck around where I went to University and don’t really plan on moving back to my “home town” although I will probably always consider it to be my home town!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kate, thanks for your message! I’m glad you found it interesting. Nice to hear your opinion, I’m the same as you with considering where I grew up to always be my “home town” but it really makes you question what you class as your actual home particularly as life moves on i.e. at university!


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