They are locked out of lectures or reprimanded by staff for being late when public transport lets them down. They are excluded from freshers’ week functions ticketed in halls and, if they do go on a night out, they are constantly checking their phones for the last train. Commuter students, living with their families, are not having an easy time in a system geared to the residential experience. But given the soaring costs of halls, staying at home can seem an attractive option. There is mounting evidence, however, that these students are missing out. They are significantly less likely than their peers in halls to say they are learning a lot on their courses, according to the latest student academic experience survey from the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi). “It’s a largely unspoken problem and one that universities need to tackle if they are to treat students equitably,” says Nick Hillman, its director. Since the trebling of fees five years ago and the scrapping of maintenance grants for students from poorer backgrounds, it is hardly surprising that living at home is popular, especially among poorer students. Most universities have a substantial proportion of commuters, some more than half of their… Read full this story
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