Facing the challenges of transition and commuting in a London University in developing strategies to enhance student engagement

Page, Nigel (2018) Facing the challenges of transition and commuting in a London University in developing strategies to enhance student engagement. In: Horizons in STEM Higher Education Conference : Making Connections, Innovating and Sharing Pedagogy; 28 - 29 Jun 2018, University of Hull, UK. (Unpublished)


A real and typical example of the realities faced by many students who attend university today is exemplified by this students’ journey having to leave home at 6.45 am to face no less than three train connections then a choice of a bus ride or 20-minute walk to campus to get to their 9.00 am lecture. This journey then being repeat in reverse at the end of the day. This demonstrates the commitment of many students particularly those attending university in large cities such as London. There is no doubt that commuting provides some universities with many of their unique features but at the same time presents them with distinctive challenges that run right to the heart of how they manage their student engagement activities from transition, learning and teaching strategies, timetabling and ultimately students’ employability options. Lower scores in the NSS and TEF for many London institutions have been described as the ‘London effect’ and the prevalence of commuting students is likely to play a major role in making it harder for these universities to establish learning communities that students feel a strong part of and supported by. Research has shown that up to 65% of Kingston University’s students commute, and when reviewed against other characteristics such as ethnicity reveal that three times the number of BME students commute with journeys over one hour when compared to their white counterparts. This is exacerbated by the fact that many of our life science, pharmacy and chemistry students are BME students, and when surveyed were less likely to have chosen to attend university to experience university life, meet new people or experience new places. BME students also reported a greater sense of belonging with school/college than their white counterparts who showed a greater sense of belonging at university. This paper will review the inclusive strategies that we have taken in terms of improving the student experience and engagement from transition, learning and teaching (reviewing content availability, assessment delivery strategies, policies), changes to the timetable delivery, the development of co-curriculum activities, and the use of social media along with the promotion of greater staff empathy to commuting students. This session will be relevant to those wanting to understand the challenges faced in developing inclusive learning communities.

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