What life is like for a commuter student

Money worries and mum's cooking can mean some students prefer to commute from home

University is a whirlwind of new-found independence; whether it’s moving to a brand new city, making meals for yourself by scratch or even chasing that deposit you were owed months ago from your dodgy landlord.

While daunting, moving away from home to start a brand new life is a rite of passage for every new generation of undergraduates. But with debt for students starting this year estimated to come to £53,400, it’s unsurprising that commuting to university is an increasingly attractive option for incoming freshers. In fact, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) reports that 297, 870 students now commute from their parental home.

But while opting to live with your parents during university may save you money, are student commuters missing out on opportunities to integrate in campus life that their on-campus students take for granted?

While their on-campus counterparts enjoy a ready-made friendship network in student accommodation from freshers' week, commuters do not benefit from the identical privilege of falling into friendship groups in their halls and often have to make more of an effort to forge friendships.

Caroline Foster, an accommodation manager at Sheffield, says: "We encourage students to live in university accommodation, as this gives them the opportunity to live within a diverse and integrated community of students."

And when lectures can often amount to a mere few hours per week, it’s unsurprising that developing friendships with coursemates can similarly prove challenging. Feeling alienated from the university community is an all-too familiar feeling for second year student commuter Alice.

"Freshers' week was one of the most isolating weeks of my life, mostly consisting of coming to class for a few days a week and returning straight home," she says.

She believes social media intensified this: "Seeing photos of my home friends who opted to go outside for university on my Facebook and Twitter news feed out clubbing with their new flatmates mostly every night only served to highlight how isolated I really was."

But for many like Alice, such isolation from the university community is not merely temporary, but endures for the remainder of the academic year. For the most part, societies cater for those living on campus. Sporting clubs, which frequently host weekly socials are more often than not held in the evenings, which can often prove too much of an inconvenience for commuters. Balancing childcare responsibilities, work or family commitments can also serve to limit opportunities to attend meetings on campus. It’s consequently unsurprising that commuter students can often struggle to fully engage in their student unions.

It’s crucial that universities make more active efforts to ensure that people living off campus feel included in the university community. Birmingham, for instance, deserves great raise for its successful Home Students Association (HSA) which aims to provide commuters with the best possible social experience at university that on-campus students take for granted. Through regularly hosting a range of social events and activities including club nights, commuter students enjoy a ready-made support network which would otherwise be unavailable. Moreover, the Guild of Students boasts the only Home Students’ Officer in the UK to ensure that the voices and needs of its home commuters are annually represented.

But while this ought to be celebrated, this is an unfortunately isolated example. For the most part, universities throughout the UK are failing to provide commuter students with the necessary support to ensure that they are not alienated from the larger university community.

But for those that opt to attend a local university, choosing to commute should not hold you back socially. Commuters must make an active effort to integrate themselves such as signing to a sports club and university societies, despite existing time pressures. Whether it’s joining paintballing society or fundraising for your university RAG, all provide unrivalled opportunities for commuters to expand their friendship network beyond their course and ensure to enrich their student experience.

Birmingham’s home students officer Jagpal Pahal concurs: "I and so many other home students have found socialising a very difficult thing to do at university. But you should not let being a home student hold you back socially. The key thing is to make the most of university and you will absolutely enjoy yourself."

While debt is not an attractive prospect, money should never play a factor in a student’s decision to stay at home. University is one of the very few times in your life where you’re exposed to new-found challenges, responsibilities and the opportunity to meet those that you’ve rarely encountered in your sixth form or college bubble.  While having a home cooked dinner and Mum changing the sheets may seem more appealing surviving mainly on a diet of Pot Noodles, choosing to remain at home prevents opportunities for self-development and independence, vital for the workplace and future employment.

My advice? Take the plunge and move out of the parental nest. It’ll be terrifying but one of the best decisions you could ever have made.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Trainee Sales Executive

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate/Trainee Sales Executive is re...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Graphic Designer - Peterborough - £18,000

£22000 - £23000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Graphic Designer...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Cambridgeshire - £23,000

£22000 - £23000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Front-End Develo...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower