Meeting the needs of our forgotten 40%: the rise of the commuter student and the decline of the residential model in UK HE

Wednesday January 31st 2024 at 2pm - 3:30pm

40% of Higher Education (HE) students in the UK are commuter students: students who continue to live at home while studying, rather than moving into student accommodation. However, commuter students remain largely invisible, in HE pedagogy, policy and processes. HEI operations, including assessments, extra-curricular activities, facilities, learning support, pedagogy and timetabling, continue to be structured around and provided on the assumption that students live on or near to campus. There is growing evidence to suggest that these are neither accessible nor suitable for students who need to travel to access their learning, support, resources and academic community, because they are provided at a time and in a place that assumes that students live on or near to campus. The presentation presents the case for adapting pedagogy, policy and processes to better meet the needs of commuter students. It is argued that this can be achieved without disadvantaging residential students. The presentation draws upon ongoing research at Canterbury Christ Church University, which has revealed the true extent of commuting, considering its causes and consequences for the individual and the environment. The presentation will present the case for greater attention to commuter students and hopes to inspire discussion regarding wider institutional changes that may be necessary as we acknowledge the decline of the residential model in the widening participation era.