Research database

LINUS - LIviNg the UniverSity city: student housing as driver of changes

24 months (2023 - 2025)
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Project type:
Nationally funded research - PRIN
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Project identification number:
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Cities reinforcing their role as Higher Education Hub are experiencing transformation processes that stress their societies, environment, and economies, posing the well-being of their citizens at stake. In particular, in certain urban areas in Northern Italy, the Higher Education Institutes became key players, acting as magnets for the off-site student population and economic investments, particularly in the real estate sector. This process has seen a series of urban changes and policy narratives accommodating a series of university-led transformations, in particular to the housing sector, with broader consequences for the cities. While the ‘town & gown’ literature has mainly focused either on the positive role of the universities as a factor of growth in the knowledge economy paradigm, or on the negative externalities of students’ growing presence as particular forms of gentrification, very few are known in terms of the relation between city and university, especially in Italy, and how this relationship affects the student housing dynamics. The complex critical interaction between urban strategies and universities’ agenda, housing supply and demands, and struggles for affordable accommodations remains a black box, despite deeply affecting student life and in general the social sustainability of the city. The research project LINUS - LIviNg the UniverSity city, addresses this gap focusing on the student housing dynamics as a driver of urban changes, in which Higher Education Institutes’ attracting policies and the relevant growth of student population in the city stress the accommodation supply. LINUS’ research agenda investigates four cities characterized by the growing pressure on students (Bologna, Milano, Padova, Torino), whose struggle to find adequate housing living conditions is reaching critical levels because of shortages or competing conditions with short-term accommodation supply. The role of universities and their attraction capacity is placed in relation to the city’s urban strategies and student mobilities, pointing at the weakness of a local (university and city) system that struggles to have a clear understanding of the needs of its student population. Student housing is addressed in terms of (a) drivers of urban changes, (b) disrupting factors in the broader housing sector, and (c) causes of specific student-dwelling trajectories. Consequently, LINUS looks at how the universities could set up a monitoring system and operate in a socially responsible way as regards student housing and to foster social inclusion for all citizens, whether part of a permanent or mobile population. An interdisciplinary consortium characterized by four research units brings together competencies in urban studies, spatial planning, urban sociology, and human geography. Members of the units have a long-lasting interest in the topic and have stabilized their cooperation in a recent workshop, which was the trigger for the project design.

People involved



ERC sectors

SH2_9 - Urban, regional and rural studies
SH2_11 - Human, economic and social geography
SH3_1 - Social structure, social mobility

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 11. Rendere le città e gli insediamenti umani inclusivi, sicuri, duraturi e sostenibili


Total cost: € 296,649.00
Total contribution: € 265,928.00
PoliTo total cost: € 95,770.00
PoliTo contribution: € 85,037.00