Chapter 7
Back to the Future

Reflecting on the past can help spearhead valuable change for the future. In our graduation year, we are seeing our industry graduating from education to learning without boundaries, from spaces to solutions, from university cities to talent hubs. What does this mean for The Class of 2020 and the life-long learners to come? In this chapter, we are proud to share our community’s thought-leadership and visionary forecasts for the next 10 years.

We asked members of our graduating class: what does the university city look like 10 years from now?

Nigel Allsopp
Senior Director, Investment Strategy & Research
"It will be even more international – UK universities accepted record international students for 2020/21, up 9% on last year. Universities will likely keep much of the hybrid (online/ on-campus) model adopted during the pandemic, keeping students close to campus and integrating the university experience into the digital city."
Click to see their video.
Samuele Annibali
"In the future I imagine university cities as smart hubs, focused on experiences and which combine accommodations with different services. In this perspective, student houses represent the ideal places for interactions and communication, where students can both enjoy their own space and spend time with their peers. Moreover, it will be necessary to enhance public transport and favour the development of sustainable alternatives to urban transportation. New technologies will be decisive: they will allow universities to automate processes, in favor of more time for learning and teaching and will enable students to deliver more value to their academic path. Investing in knowledge and innovation may become the key for the change."
Click to see their video.
Martina Bo
Liaison Officer Italy
"More hybrid (online / on-campus learning). A '15-minute city', with more amenities and closer to home."
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Herman Du Bois
Quares Student Housing
"A bigger blended learning, working and living community."
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Nathan Goddard
Student Roost
"While some elements of university teaching will move online, there will always be an appetite for face-to-face teaching and a greater collaboration between learning and living. This makes PBSA and its high-quality shared facilities even more relevant and attractive. We also expect that a higher percentage of the student population will be drawn to live in larger professionally-managed PBSA assets rather than smaller houses."
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Paul Kann
Commercial Director
"Rather than place student accommodation on the outskirts of a city, it will become more integrated into the heart of the city community through the increased construction of mixed-use developments. City leaders will continue to recognise that students will bring new ideas, fresh talent and long term economic gain to their city, and strategies will be put in place to encourage the best to stay post-graduation to start their careers or businesses. Cities will come to fully realise and appreciate the financial contributions that students bring both short and long term."
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Philip Laukart
Managing Director
"University cities will become much more resource-efficient thanks to sustainable ways of transportation, sharing services and resource-efficient buildings. Digitalization will be a key driver to exploit potential in all three areas, while ensuring convenience for the city’s inhabitants."
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Stewart Moore
CRM Students
"A hub of innovation. Increasingly, university cities must hold their graduates closely and utilise their skills to create knowledge and innovation centres of excellence, propelling that city and nation forward."
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Stewart Osborn
Head of European Residential Investment Transactions
Knight Frank
"Cities in general are becoming more dynamic, and university cities are no different, evolving their position in the world as innovation hubs, and integrating in a triumvirate of education, research and commerce. With the new generations of workforce becoming more globally mobile, these key city elements help underpin the economies of the city of the future and their ability to attract and retain global talent. Not just in the higher education sector, but in commerce too."
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Georg-Christian Rueb
Fund Manager
Union Investment
"(University) Cities in 2030 will be highly interconnected, environmentally friendly, provide carbon free and easily accessible mobility, low-noise, green, compact and most of all mixed. Mixed in terms of different usages within the same building or micro location, but also in terms of people living there. Living, learning, working and playing will happen simultaneously. The usage and layout of real estate will be adapted to the different needs of young people, children or elderly."
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Fiona Stewart
Contract Director
"It is likely we will see massive disruption in the university sector, when tech companies such as Google and Microsoft start offering degrees which will create a very different landscape. COVID-19 has accelerated a digital and more blended learning approach, students may favour to stay at home and study, or more degree apprenticeships may be created. More flexibility in the system such as student studying modules in different locations dipping in and out of university is expected."
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Mark Stewart
New Business Lead
"Fewer Universities perhaps, established smart environments for new business and hive style collaboration for research, which will support the future business innovation."
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Susan Tjarksen
Managing Director
Cushman & Wakefield
"University cities will become much more integrated with the surrounding communities and regions as online learning becomes a norm for a large percentage of the school year. This means that people of all ages, and from different geographic cities can have access to higher learning on a regular basis. Part of making this online learning sticky for the university is hosting quarterly on-site lectures, meet and greets and collegial pride building exercises. That means that for universities, particularly those in more far flung areas, will need to find ways to engage the local communities on a daily basis. Urban center universities will also become more porous by encouraging local residents to participate both online and in-person."
Click to see their video.
Alana Weibull
Global Marketing Manager
Assa Abloy
"The future university city is vibrant, blended and forward thinking. The lines between study, research and work are eased. Technology is prevalent and advancements plentiful. These cities become a place of inspiration and notable collaborations."
Click to see their video.

The Class Beyond Graduation

Since 2011, The Class of 2020 grew from a Dutch platform of 9 partners to the largest European thinktank on student and coliving with about 90 partners with a single goal: to further the professionalism and knowledge of students and young professionals living in Europe. We have traveled around the main European university cities and beyond, exchanging knowledge, meeting new people, learning from experts and each other. The year 2020 is our graduation year. We started our graduation journey in February in London with our pan-European session and were very excited to continue our journey to celebrate our community’s achievements for the past decade, today, together in Amsterdam. However, things took a different turn when COVID-19 abruptly disrupted our journey.  


Collaboration & Learning

Nonetheless, with the challenges and uncertainty of unprecedented scale, the power of our community shined through. Our community started to communicate intensively confirming our two core strengths: collaboration and learning. We immediately transformed our website to include a news radar, filtering and publishing the most relevant, important and urgent information not only about our industry but also about the intertwined industries impacting each other. We regeared ourselves in the virtual space, delivering what we promised. We introduced new initiatives like The Class Education Insider, continuing our learning journey. Even though we could not shake hands, we could bring our heads together and connect with our hearts. Through numerous touch points, our community made us feel confident that our purpose still stands strong. This year, our website visits, newsletter- and social media followers almost doubled, our event participation tripled and number of expert speakers who got involved in our learning journey quadrupled. And today, our graduation conference and the industry festival of collaboration and learning, made us even more committed to our core proposition to our valued partners.  

Network & Leadership Development

You have told us our community value is centered around intimate networking and meeting new people in a collaborative manner. You have emphasized to us inspirational leadership of our community should become visible, to continue to set new standards. You have taught us competition can be the basis for stronger collaboration via peer group learning. You have confirmed to us that we achieved a lot together, but we still have shared responsibility to push us further for the future generations. And today, we faced a fast-forwarded future, encouraging us to reinvent ourselves in how we continue to bring those values beyond our graduation.  


2021: from here to Amsterdam

Whatever uncertainty 2021 may bring, we are certain we are ready to serve our community with new ways in which we can collaborate and learn but also bring every initiative closer to our community. We will introduce you to new ways to network and meet new people, which was one of the perks of our events. Together with you, we will empower your employees - the people who are the driving force of industry innovation - via peer group learning designed by our industry and for our industry. We will highlight leadership of the industry’s leaders by hosting partner-exclusive meetings during which we will continue to hear your advice and feedback to set the most important, relevant, and urgent agenda for our community in a most timely manner. We will bring all those rich learning outcomes forward via coordinated outlets, to showcase the strength of our community and the significant roles our partners are playing in shaping the future of blended living. And last but not least, next year in November, we hope to meet you again in Amsterdam, during our conference, the industry festivity like none other.  


We spoke with many of you already. But we are not done yet as the only and the best way that we know is to respect your voice to drive change. We want to continue to shape the future of The Class Community together, so we all grow together. In the next days, our partners should expect an individual invitation from us to discuss our industry's future and help shape our organisation's new vision, including our new brand. We cannot wait till 2021 to present what we have shaped together for the next generation of The Class community.  


Thank you for believing in us and thank you for your unbelievable support during this one-of-a-kind year. Very much looking forward to forge ahead with you in further strengthening our one-of-a-kind community. Lastly, congratulations to all the graduates, the proud Class of 2020 and ‘see’ you soon again.


On behalf of The Class team,
Yoony Kim, Managing Director and Frank Uffen, Co-founder, The Class of 2020

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