Johnston, Stephen

University led Regeneration




School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering
Queen's University Belfast
Level 3
David Keir Building
Stranmillis Road
Belfast BT9 5AG
Northern Ireland



+44 (0)2890 974254


Current Research:

This research aims to examine neoliberalism and contested urbanism through the notion of studentification in the urban environment, particularly within a city context.  The term, studentification, is defined as a concentration of university student related regeneration in an urban area, often displacing an existing community in the process (Smith, 2002).  These processes are not said to be happening by chance, instead they are an element of the "deepening of neoliberalism" that continues to form and regulate urbanism (Chatterton, pg. 514, 2010).  Universities are not outside neoliberal changes in society and are believed to support corporate competitiveness through the major role they play in the knowledge based economy (Slaughter and Rhoades, 2000). It can be stated that this leads to socio-economic inequalities which Harvey (2006, pg 152) states as "necessary for competitiveness".  Despite the 'negative' impacts, Chatterton (2010) believes studentification can also be deemed as a form of 'positive' gentrification, bringing resources, jobs and education into an area.  This therefore highlights the contested nature of the topic.

The research will investigate the impacts of university-led regeneration, studentification and the universities role in the knowledge economy.  It will also look at how a more balanced and just city can be created by incorporating university-led regeneration.  Campus orientated urban regeneration has been taking place for the last twenty years in many cities across the United Kingdom, Ireland and further afield, with many U.S. universities also experiencing the process.  An opportunity therefore exists for this research to investigate these international case studies and the impacts they have had on urbanism.  A local example of university-led regeneration of an area is the construction of the new University of Ulster campus in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast.  It is proposed that a key focus of the research would examine the effects of this, along with those of Queens University, on the city.

Supervisors: Dr. Urmi Sengupta & Professor Aileen Stockdale


MSc in Planning & Regeneration, Queen’s University Belfast (2014)
BSc Hons (First Class Honours) in Environmental Planning, Queen’s University Belfast, 2013


Hugh McKay Memorial Award for the best Thesis in Environmental Planning Stage III, 2013


PhD Research Studentship, Department of Employment and Learning, 2014