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Homeward Bound: Defining, understanding and aiding ‘commuter students’

According to the Sutton Trust, a quarter of today’s students in the UK lives at home and commute to study at university. In some parts of the country, especially major cities, the proportion is higher. This paper demonstrates that these so-called commuter students do not always have such rounded and fulfilling experiences as other students, and they sometimes do not benefit from their higher education as much as those students who reside at university.

Living at home and commuting to university is standard across much of Europe, but not in the UK. Relocating to university is a distinctive feature of UK higher education and it confers many advantages for students and universities. However, it is comparatively expensive for individuals and the State, and benefits most those with the financial wherewithal, social flexibility and confidence to make such a big life change. 

In this report, produced with financial support from UPP, David Maguire and David Morris explore:

  • the various definitions of ‘commuter students’;
  • some of the challenges they face;
  • practical solutions that might be employed to improve the experience of commuter students.