By Zoe Fripp
A recent study conducted by Sutton Trust has found that disadvantaged students are more than three times as likely to live at home and commute to university, compared to people from wealthier backgrounds.
Sutton Trust aims to improve social mobility in the UK and conducted the research for this purpose. They have found that “Student mobility is a major factor in the higher education access gap, as students’ access to the best universities can be limited without travelling significant distances, while those living at home may miss out on wider university activities that improve their networks and life skills.”
The report reveals that 55.8% of young people in 2014/2015 chose to study at universities in their local area, not venturing further than 55 miles away from their home.
The report reveals that 44.9% of students from the lowest social class commute to university, compared to only 13.1% from the highest social class. It was also found that students that attended state school are 2.6 times more likely to not move away from home and go to a distant university compared to those that were privately educated.
The report also made findings based on the demographics of the students, such as ethnicity and location. It found that British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi students are over six times more likely to stay living at home than white students. Students from the North East, in particular, are also less likely to be mobile when attending university than students from the South East of England.
The report comes a week after Theresa May has vowed to review higher education, and Sutton Trust is calling for maintenance grants to be reintroduced to allow those from disadvantaged backgrounds to have the chance to live away from their university if that’s what they wish.
The Sutton Trust has also recommended that Higher Education officials consider the disadvantaged students more, by offering petrol vouchers or even fully paid bus services for those living in remote and rural parts of the country, that would struggle to commute to university otherwise. They have also recommended that railcards should be allowed to be used in peak times, to allow disadvantaged students cheaper travel options.
One of the authors of the study, Dr Michael Donnelly, of the University of Bath, told The Independent that moving away to attend university is “very much the preserve of white, middle class and privately educated young people from the south of England” which “represent a consistent and growing divide in higher education experiences.”