This article explores safety concerns and fear of crime amongst women students attending university in a large town in the north-east of England. It acknowledges that gender as a social category is problematic; however, the article is grounded in recognition of its significance in shaping experiences of fear, safety and space. The main aim is to explore how gender intersects with student identity(ies) in a specific local context. The article draws upon qualitative data from doctoral research that explored the crime and fear experiences of women students studying in a town bearing all the hallmarks of industrial decline. It evidences powerful representations of place with respondents drawing heavily on the town's working-class culture and de-industrialisation in their reading of the locale. In addition, respondents linked the town unequivocally to crime and disorder, and identified the criminal threat as originating from local people. In this way, fears were frequently locally focused, linking to a fear of place and the risks associated with student identity. This highlights that women's fears and spatial negotiation cannot be read exclusively in terms of gender – in this context they are frequently shaped by ‘studenthood’ and the dynamics of class and locality. At the same time, however, the article reveals how the local intersects with gender to shape experiences of space, fear and safety, as well as the transformative effects of ethnicity at its intersection with gender, locality and student identity.