Economical benefits of students in the city

City of students, the city of universities or city of research and development. These are the nicknames often given to Brno these days. However, ten years ago, the city had a completely different image and was only in search of its identity. The engineering industry was on its decline after the transformational processes in the nineties and exhibition fairs were also losing their former glory. It was universities and especially their students, who gave Brno its new face. Since the turn of the millennium, a number of college students have almost tripled. Universities received a lot of funding for their development, with a number of research facilities being established. However, Brno went through an even deeper transformation reaching way beyond improvements in science and education. The economic structure of the city has changed significantly, with ca. 75% of people now working in services and only a quarter in manufacturing, construction, and other areas. Brno has livened up, especially in its historical center. Ten years ago, it was difficult to find a place to have a nice dinner, nowadays, Brno is a renowned gastronomical destination with many famous restaurants. The local café culture is also going through a big renaissance. The presence of students in the city has played a big part in all of these cultural changes.

Since 2011, we examine the behavior of students and their influence on economic development in the city. All in all, almost 10,000 students participated in our research, which is an amazing figure and proves the fact that Brno’s students really care about the city they live in. All three surveys showed that Brno foremost attracts students coming from Moravia, with most of them, unsurprisingly, coming from South Moravia Region, but interestingly, also from the Moravian-Silesian Region, despite the significant distance. A notable number of students also come from Vysočina and Pardubice regions.

Permanent residence of university and college students (2016)

Students most often travel to Brno by train, followed by bus and car. Comparing to the survey from 2014, we see a rise in traveling by car, which is probably more comfortable and faster for many students and also increasingly cheaper due to the emergence of carsharing services. In 2014, 24% claimed they use a car to get to Brno, in 2016, it was already 35% students. Increased commuting to Brno by car contributes to the problem of parking space shortage, not only in the proximity of schools but also in residential areas. According to the Central Registration of Vehicles and Czech Statistical Office, at the end of 2011 there was 1 automobile per 2.42 inhabitants of the South Moravia Region. In 2015, it’s the number rose to 2.01. In case of students, the situation is even worse. In an average student apartment, there are usually 4 – 6 people living together. If each one of them comes to Brno by car, they have difficulty finding a place to leave their car and also block a parking spot for the entire week, because most students use public transport when moving around the city. Public transport is used by 63% of students, 29% go by foot, 5% used car and only 3% bike for traveling within the city. However, if we also consider those, who use public transport only occasionally, the number rises to 90%.

How students travel within the city                                              Types of tickets used by students

Students buy longterm public transport tickets the most, with 80% doing so. Based on the money students stated they spend on public transport (70% of them answered 190 – 300 Czech crowns), we can assume most of them buy the quarterly ticket, which costs 685 crowns. Students with permanent residence in Brno most often buy the yearly ticket, which is the cheapest for them, costing 197 crowns per month.

Not the only locality, but first and foremost the price plays a significant role when choosing a new place to live. Figures, which are students mostly willing to pay monthly, range between 2,500 and 4,000 crowns. The average among foreigners, excluding Slovaks, is 5,723 crowns. Apart from living in dormitories, students increasingly look for accommodation in rented apartments, especially in higher years of their studies.

Prices students pay for accommodation in Brno

We also examined the eating habits of students and found out that 50% of the surveyed students usually cook for themselves, 32% use their school canteen, 12% bring food from their homes and 7% eat regularly in restaurants. The research shows that women cook for themselves more often (68%) than men (32%), and on the other hand men prefer having a lunch in a restaurant (62%).
Brno is not only an important education center for students but also a cultural and social hub with a great environment for spending one’s free time. The city is rich in historical sights, shopping malls, cultural and sports facilities and other kinds of recreational ventures. Students are an important target group for these businesses. With the goal of finding out which of these activities are students most interested in, we included a question about their free time in the survey. For example, an average student spends 321 crowns in restaurants, cafes, and pubs.

Eating habits of students           Spending of students on entertainment

Income of students is composed of multiple sources. Another goal of the research was to find out, how many students work to contribute to their income, how much are they supported by their families and whether scholarships are a significant source of student earnings. 80% stated that their main source of income is allowance from their parents or other family members and 20% predominantly cover for their expenses by themselves. The amount, with which families support students most often ranges between 4 and 5 thousand crowns per month. 52% of students earn money throughout the year and 30% work only during holidays. The average wage students are making is 3,500 crowns per month. The research suggests that the overall average monthly costs of student living are around 8,280 crowns.
Based on the provided data, we can estimate the contribution of Brno’s students to its economy. The average spending is 8,280 crowns. After subtracting the costs of commuting to Brno, we get 7,830 crowns, which the students spend in the city. If we take into account a student studying in Brno for full 5 years of Bachelor’s plus Master’s degree and will spend 10 months of each year in Brno, they will spend 77,060 crowns per year and 385,300 crowns during their entire studies. At the moment, there are approximately 70 thousand students in Brno. We can roughly estimate that students spend more than 5 billion crowns in Brno each year.
The most important part for Brno in all of this is that 39% of students want to stay after their studies to work. This way, Brno acquires qualified workforce composed of young people, which are going to settle down and set up families. So far, this development strategy has worked great for Brno and there is no reason to believe this will change in the near future.
The research itself was done in collaboration with students, who based their diploma theses on them. In 2016, it was a diploma student from Mendel University Sylva Kotoučková, whom we would like to thank for her cooperation.

Source data of the research: 2011, 2014, 2016.