Students’ parents, bursars and other sponsors of higher learning and education studies may not be fully aware of this, but they’re contributing to one of the largest macro economies of the modern world, which is the student economy. It’s a really big economy whether you look at it as a whole or if you isolate it into those economies operating around each individual institution of higher learning. It’s definitely worth a closer look into though, particularly from the point of view of travel-related student affairs.
It’s perhaps pertinent to first explore the student travel economy around student accommodation because this is a major constituent of this macro economy. There’s the evident direct flow of money which can be easily tracked and traced, that being students paying for their accommodation, or rather having their parents or sponsors pay for their accommodation. This obviously brings to light the property sector, which is made as big as it is in those areas housing an institution of higher learning by the fact that students need a place to stay.
The numbers are justifiably hard to track when we start to explore the peripheral market surrounding student accommodation, such as the generally increased “value” and price of properties which are within the vicinity of the local higher learning institution. I mean if you pick up a physical copy of a property guide or indeed if you visit a real estate website listing properties for sale in the region, what you’ll always see without fail is “close to university” as one of the items on the property’s list of amenities. Never mind the fact that your own student days are over or in fact that you perhaps have fully grown, working and self-sufficient kids. The mere fact that the property you want to buy is near an institution of higher learning means you’ll be paying more for it.
The same goes for accommodation in the area which is geared more towards travellers. Something like a backpackers or hostel located in an area close to a higher learning institution is that much more expensive, thus making the accommodation portion of the student travel economy somewhat of a premium market.
Pretty much the same applies to the transportation industry surrounding students, which contributes to the student travel economy. From the basics such as a student bus pass right up to special discounted prices for student plane tickets, the direct channels of this student travel economy and the peripheral markets make for a very big and lucrative macro economy.
Here’s where it gets really interesting though. As much as discounts extended to students sort of suggest that the travel-related companies doing so are doing the students a favour, which in many cases they really are, in most cases however it’s the other way around. Or rather it becomes a win-win scenario in which these travel sector service providers can essentially fill up some seats and beds that would otherwise have been empty, while their service only really exists in the first place as a result of a market created by the presence of a higher learning institution and its students. Either way, students get reduced prices, but the student travel economy is much bigger than what the average person may think.