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Students should receive grants to help them live closer to university, report recommends

By Greg Potts Mar 19, 2018
Students march for free education in London last November, including calling for living grants for all. Photo: Rex

Students from less affluent backgrounds should receive more financial support to stop them having to commute to university, a report from the Sutton Trust released on February 15 recommended.

The report by the social mobility foundation looked at the prevalence of commuter students attending universities across the UK and found that over three times more students in the lowest social class group commute from home than do so from the highest group.

Beau Allwood, a second-year sports and exercise science student at KU, commuted from Essex last year to save money but now lives in Kingston: “I saved around £2,500 by living at home last year compared to this year and also wanted to see what it would be like commuting on a day to day basis if I were to get a city job after university.

“I can see why so many people decide to live at home but I felt as though I missed out on the true university life.”

Over 50 per cent of undergraduate students at Kingston University now commute from outside of the borough and The River recently reported that South Western Railway fares increased by 3.3 percent in January this year.

Some of the reports’ other recommendations included restoring maintenance grants, lowering fees for the less well-off and flexible timetabling of lectures where there are a large number of commuter students.

Aranee Manoharan, a KU student community engagement adviser, said the University had analysed data to work out where commuters were travelling from and what they were studying as well as interviewing students to find out specific needs.

Manoharan said: “We have run Commuter Cafe’s as space for commuter students to socialise, relax and meet one another during the day as a lot of the social activities that students can experience are in the evenings and are not accessible to commuter students.

“Timetabling also now know about commuter students and so they’re working hard to try and sort out timetables that are more commuter friendly.”

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