Addressing problems faced by 'commuter' students in higher education

Anderson, Deborah, Avery, Barry and Southall, Jane (2016) Addressing problems faced by 'commuter' students in higher education. In: British Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference 2016; 13-15 Sep 2016, Leeds, U.K.. (Unpublished)


The importance of a smooth transition from secondary into higher education has been noted in the literature with a focus on the need for students to integrate, develop a social and academic identity and acquire appropriate independent learning skills. However, much of the work has not taken account of the increasingly diverse student body where many do not leave home but commute on a daily basis whilst retaining parttime jobs, making recommended transition models difficult to implement. This study aims to deepen our understanding and address issues faced by commuter students: why they live at home; what issues this raises for their studies and how we might be able to develop approaches which make their transition easier. The study will be carried out in the Faculty of Business and Law at a UK University in the South East where a survey completed in 2014-2015 amongst first year students found that only 24% (n=446) were living in halls of residence, with 55% living at home. 33% had part-time jobs with 87% of these working more than 9 hours per week. Three questions will guide the research: 1. Why do students become “commuter students”? 2. What are the specific problems faced by commuter students during the first year at University? 3. What are the possible ways we could help commuter students in the first year at University? The study will begin with a literature review on the commuter student. Several studies have already started to address this issue (e.g., Holdsworth, 2006; Meuleman et al., 2015; Trowler, 2015) often within the “transitions” literature. The second phase will take a qualitative approach, using in-depth interviews with ten first year Business students. Data analysis will begin with open coding, then axial coding and finally selective coding and we will report our findings around the selected themes, using anonymous quotations to illustrate key points. References Holdsworth, C. (2006) 'Don't you think you're missing out, living at home? Student experiences and residential transitions', The Sociological Review, 54(3), pp.495-519. Meuleman, A-M., Garrett, R., Wrench, A. and King, S. (2015) ‘Some people might say I'm thriving but… : ’non-traditional students' experiences of university, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 19(5), pp. 503-517. Trowler, V. (2015) ‘Negotiating Contestations and ‘Chaotic Conceptions’: Engaging ‘Non-Traditional’ Students in Higher Education’ Higher Education Quarterly, 69(3), pp. 295–310

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