“The Global Student: Building Bridges over Growing Barriers” – the theme of The Class Conference 2017 envisioned the European student living sector as a source of unity against a growing divisive political discourse emphasizing borders and differences.
The two-day event began with a selection of tours around Lisbon, showcasing both student accommodation and vibrant, up-and-coming innovation centres throughout the city. The LX Factory, a space boasting a coworking office, hostel, and many restaurants and shops in a former industrial site, the Doorm student residence, and Milestone’s new student residence at the future campus of the NOVA School of Economics and Business were amongst the locations visited. The tour ended at the Pátio da Galé, opposite the city hall, where The Class Conference attendees were welcomed by Lisbon Deputy Mayor, Duarte Cordeiro, and The Class of 2020 Foundation Manager, Jorick Beijer. The Partners and Awards dinner was held at the Estufa Fria, Lisbon’s botanical garden. With 250+ guests in attendance, The Class of 2020 announced the winners of ‘The Best In The Class Awards 2018’, celebrating excellence in European student living.
The second day of The Class Conference was focused on myriad topics surrounding student living: from integrated technology and residence life to updates on student housing markets across Europe. Before an audience of over 500, the Mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina, welcomed the European student living community, describing Lisbon as experiencing “a moment of energy” and that student housing is taking a pivotal role in ensuring the continued flow of young talent to the city. In the opening plenary panel, the speakers touched upon the importance of language as it is still one of the fundamental barriers to the internationalization of the student body in Portugal. To ensure continued international desirability, Portugal need to actively work with universities to provide more English taught programmes, a theme The Class of 2020 has seen pop up at several of its smaller regional sessions across Europe earlier in the year. Needless to say, Lisbon has plenty to offer: gorgeous weather year-round, a lower than average cost of living, and a wonderful, open culture.
Beyond the excitement surrounding this year’s host city, another hot topic on the stage was one focused on the so-called “co-revolution”, which examined the increasing popularity of co-living and co-working spaces amongst the next wave of graduates. Ease of travel, growth in the “gig economy”, and a desire for geographic flexibility are pushing demand for these new concepts.
Another highlight from The Class Conference 2017 was ASK4’s unveiling of their recent study on connectivity. With a focus on the next generation of students (i.e. current high school students), their research shows that younger cohorts of students are increasingly interested in privacy on and off the web. The Class Conference also stayed true to its roots, providing a stage dedicated entirely to short panel power-sessions on some of the most popular student housing markets across Europe. This stage was kicked-off with a keynote presentation by youth travel and international education expert Samuel Vetrak, CEO of StudentMarketing.
The Class Conference 2017 provided a stage for communities to come together, share ideas, and ultimately build an ecosystem for talent. Next year’s conference, which will be focused on the revitalisation of post-industrial sites into ‘urban campuses’, will be held in Milan on November 14th & 15th.