STUDENTS from poorer backgrounds are being forced to become ‘student commuters’, living in their home town and then commuting back and forth on a daily basis to university because they cannot afford the rents in halls, a new report by the Sutton Trust reveals.
Students from working class families are three times more likely to live at home, meaning that they then have to spend vast amounts of time and money commuting to university on a daily basis. Working class students also have to restrict what courses they take and what universities they attend, the report indicates.
It states: ‘The majority of young people (55.8% in 2014/15) stay local for university; attending a university less than 55 miles away from their home address. ‘Only one-in-ten students attend a university over 150 miles from home, and those that do are socially, ethnically and geographically distinct groups. ‘London universities in particular have seen substantial percentage increases, suggesting that rising housing costs and debt are changing students’ choices in the capital.
‘Social class is a key factor which drives the mobility choices of young people, with disadvantaged students less likely to leave home and travel further. ‘Over three times more students in the lowest social class group commute from home than do so from the highest group (44.9% compared with 13.1%). ‘In contrast, leaving home and attending a distant university is too often the preserve of white, middle class, privately educated young people.’
Shantel Sibanda, member of the Young Socialists Student Society at London Met said: ‘I wanted to live in halls, but the price was £300 per week, per person, and that is ridiculous.
‘As a result, I live at home and travel to university every day. Sometimes, to make it cheaper I take the bus, because train fares are very expensive as well. ‘My brother lives with me in Enfield and he has to travel back and forth to the University of Bedfordshire. My friend also goes to that university and she travels from Barnet on a daily basis. ‘Student grants must be restored so that our accommodation is paid for. Education must be free and tuition must go. Printing, books, travel and lunch all cost money and should be covered by a grant.’
Young Socialists national secretary Joshua Ogunleye said: ‘Grants must be restored that cover students’ full accommodation and living costs so that they can study the course they want at the university they want. ‘University fees must be immediately abolished to ensure everyone, no matter what their family background, has the right to go to university. ‘All student halls must be taken back under the control of the universities and the full rent covered by the student grants. ‘The whole working class must come out to back the nation wide Lecturers strike, in a general strike and bring this government down!’