'We absolutely can't wait to get them back' - Sheffield set to welcome students after toughest year
Businesses across Sheffield are gearing up for the multi-million pound return of students - with hopes of a boom after Covid restrictions were lifted.
The city is set to welcome 60,000 young scholars, with many arriving this weekend.
After being cooped up for more than a year, it is hoped a record number will be looking for a good time.
Nick Simmonite, landlord of the Frog and Parrot on Division Street and chair of night time association Unight, said it would the first time many 19-year-olds had set foot in a nightclub.
Clubs faced the longest shutdown in the pandemic, closing in March 2020 with most not reopening until July this year.
He added: “We absolutely can’t wait to get them back. Students make a huge difference to the night time economy, they can be as many as half the guests in a nightclub.
“There are around 25,000 freshers every year, but there were also a lot of second years who didn’t really get a lot of in-person learning last year and for many it will be their first time in a nightclub too.”
Sheffield has about 20 clubs with some investing in new lighting and sound systems ready to “knock the socks off new students,” he added.
“Normally, most clubs close after Tramlines for refurbishments and a reset ahead of the new term. This year they opened as soon as they could and have stayed open.
“But the city is a bit flat without the students, we need them. We have got a great offer, Sheffield is friendly, safe and vibrant and has won numerous awards.
“We’re planning for the worst but gearing up for the best.”
The industry received a boost this week when the government ditched plans for vaccine passports for clubbers.
But there are fears of new restrictions if cases spike in autumn and winter.
Figures from the University and College Union show that in 2019, Sheffield’s two universities employed 10,520 directly, some 3,670 at Sheffield Hallam and 10,180 at the University of Sheffield, with a further 19,520 in the supply chain, adding £1.1bn to the economy.
International students pump £290m into the Sheffield Central constituency every year new figures show - amid fears the total could fall due to Covid and Brexit.