Even before the pandemic, UAL students consistently raised housing issues to Arts SU as important factors impacting on their student experience. The buildings we inhabit and make our homes (even if only during term time) impact on our emotional and physical health, our sense of safety and belonging, and on our ability to learn.
All of this has been compounded by the increased time we spend in our homes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting measures put in place to reduce transmission, including multiple lockdowns.
Art students have always been of particular interest to the media in their relationship to housing. Seen as cultural innovators, where art students choose to reside has been read by the media at best as a sign of “the next cool place”, and more negatively, as a sign of coming gentrification.
Through this project, we are looking to explore the realities of lockdown living in London, away from the media's binary portrayal of art students either as “gentrifiers” or "suffering for their art".
Space poverty, lack of access to studios and technical resources, and poor quality housing are having a disproportionate impact on creatives both in terms of their practice, and their well-being.
This research, conducted by the Arts SU Policy Team, will give us a snapshot of life as a London art student in the 2020/21 cohort, and speak to the wider context of an academic year group for whom the pandemic has injected more volatility into an already precarious housing and employment landscape.
The report shall be divided into two parts: the first shall discuss issues concerning housing and accommodation, while the second shall discuss issues concerning community. Finally, this reports makes a series of recommendations on how UAL can begin responding to these issues. However, it is also our intention for this report to ask as the start of an ongoing conversation around housing and student life.
We will be working with UAL to implement the recommendations in this report. You can access the full report here.
Artwork - Miroslav Radu - BA (Hons) Architecture course at Central Saint Martins