Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Fourth International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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‘I use my time more wisely…’ The implications for learning and teaching in higher education of more ‘commuter students’
Liz Thomas

Last modified: 09-05-2018


In the UK students have traditionally moved away from home to study in higher education, but this is changing as a consequence of greater participation, and the shift in responsibility for financing study from the State to individual students and their families. This research under took 60 qualitative interviews with students of all ages who defined themselves as ‘commuters’, who continue to live at home whilst studying. The study found that while the students largely viewed themselves as ‘good students’ aiming to engage fully in their academic studies, the stresses and strains – and cost and time – involved in travelling - resulted in students evaluating the utility of a trip to campus, considering whether their resources would be better spent studying at home. In addition, these students tended to be less engaged in ‘enhancement’ activities, and had very little social engagement with HE peers. Commuter students achieve less good outcomes: they are more likely to withdraw early, achieve lower attainment and are less likely to secure graduate employment on completion. This paper considers the implications for student engagement and teaching and learning in higher education of a larger commuter student population, in an effort to achieve greater equity in student outcomes.

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