May 7, 2013, by offcampus

Cllr Jon Collins on Students and Nottingham

We’re very pleased to welcome the leader of Nottingham City Council, Councillor Jon Collins, to the Off Campus blog today to talk about the role of students (and graduates) in the city.

It’s hard to underestimate the impact students have on a city like Nottingham. Some 40,000 students across the two Universities make us the youngest major city in the UK. These same students bring economic benefits, innovative ways of thinking ethnic and cultural diversity. Many students choose to become an active part of the community they live in, many thousands of hours are given by students in voluntary projects across the city and many go on to contribute great things to our city.

There are, however, times when students can bring more of a challenge. Whilst I know that the majority of students want to contribute positively to Nottingham, a small number create problems for a variety of reasons. In areas such as Dunkirk, Lenton and Beeston where a high proportion of residents are students, other members of the local community can feel overwhelmed by the volume of students and sometimes forgotten amongst the larger, often louder student population. At times, the different priorities and lifestyles of the city’s working population and its students can create tension. However I believe that we can find constructive ways to ensure that students and the rest of the Nottingham population not only live alongside one another, but create communities and relationships that cross demographic boundaries.

As Leader of Nottingham City Council, it is my job to set priorities and policies that best reflect the needs of the citizens of Nottingham. Students, even if you only stay for 3 years, are included as Nottingham citizens. When one in eight of Nottingham’s population are students, there is a clear need to listen to your views, understand your priorities and allow you to engage with and influence our policies.

I want Nottingham not only to be a student friendly city, but also a graduate friendly city. Nottingham has lots to offer young professionals, and even more to gain from the talent that comes to the city through the University. We are investing in economic projects which we hope will encourage entrepreneurialism to flourish. I hope some of these new businesses could be started by those finishing university. We are investing in our transport infrastructure. I hope this could be a part of a continued life in Nottingham, where potential will always be backed and encouraged.

So I am always looking to hear from students and to understand Nottingham from your perspective. The ways of doing this are changing, as social media becomes an ever more important tool for engagement and action. Now more than ever before, there is the opportunity to hold politicians publicly to account for what you see as your priorities. I am now meeting regularly with the Students’ Union and hope to hear more about how we can be a more student- friendly Council. But I value your views and would love to hear from you about how we can better serve our students.

To stay in touch with what I am doing, follow me on Twitter @cllrjoncollins

Posted in Guest blog