Will Covid-19 be a catalyst for change for our commuting students?

Page, Nigel (2021) Will Covid-19 be a catalyst for change for our commuting students? In: The University of Hull Learning and Teaching Conference 2021: Higher Education for the Common Good : Learning from COVID-19; 13-14 Jul 2021, Hull (Held online). (Unpublished)


Widening participation has encouraged students from a diverse range of backgrounds into university with many more students now living at home, who under normal circumstances would have been facing quite significant commutes to university. Changes precedingCOVID-19 had already placed significant challenges on universities in developing their inclusive learning strategies; especially, in countering a student population that has become increasingly more strategic in judging their own learning needs and perceived value in making the journey to campus. Our own internal surveys prior to COVID-19 have identified a series of barriers that inhibit student on campus attendance and from which student-driven enablers were identified. We found many of the enablers to be overarching independent of whether students were commuters or not and therefore suggestive of being amenable to the development of all-inclusive learning and teaching strategies. Nonetheless, the implementation of such approaches pre-COVID-19 would haverequired bold modifications to learning and teaching and a move away from the traditional perceptions of a brick-and-mortar university model. Although, the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily reduced the need for most students to commute, it has opened up new opportunities to review and experiment with virtual learning and teaching strategies. In this light, COVID-19 can be regarded as a positive disruptor for commuting students. Nonetheless, at the current time the pandemic has driven much teaching delivery to the opposite extreme away from the campus focussed university. Applying a new balance between the physical campus university, the identified student priorities and the newly realised alternative teaching practices is going to be paramount moving forward. Here, we look at the potential new balance between the virtual and physical worlds, curriculum design and assessment and what the holistic impact may be at an urban university with a high number of commuting students.

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