The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Disadvantaged students three times more likely to live at home

New report shows that just one in ten students attend a university over 150 miles from home


Disadvantaged students are three times more likely to be in the 23 per cent of University students who are estimated to live at home compared to their wealthier peers, according to a new report.

The Sutton Trust has investigated mobility for students across the UK, providing insight into the reality for thousands of students across the country who commute to university campuses.

While the concept of student living in halls is considered to be a quintessential aspect of university life to some, the reality of the Trust’s findings provide a considerably-different picture, finding that over a fifth (23 per cent) of students aged 21 or under live at home, with that figure 12 per cent higher for those in Scotland.

Predictably, economic concerns appear to be the primary motivation behind the decision to live at home while studying, with over half of UK students enrolled at universities less than 55 miles from their homes.

This appears to confirm the worrying possibility of a “postcode lottery” with regards to access to Higher Education, with young people restricted in their choices of institution based on their home address.

Students in the South of England were found to be much more likely to move considerable distance than fellow students in Northern areas, with the North East of England identified as the peak region for students living at home.

Findings revealed that students from recognisably-disadvantaged backgrounds were three times as likely to be forced into commuting to university, with a difference relating to educational backgrounds was also noted, with state school students found to be increasingly likely to attend a university within close proximity to home.

The report highlighted a link between student mobility and ethnic factors, with British Pakistani and Bangladeshi students reported to be over six times as likely to live at home than their White counterparts.

Sutton Trust Chairman Peter Lampl was insistent upon the effect of increased tuition fees on a such a phenomenon, noting that the tendency of disadvantaged students to live at home, “has become more pronounced since the introduction of tuition fees of £9,000 per year in 2012”, meaning that “for students living at home access to the most selective universities is limited”.

Lampl led the list of recommendations offered by the report, by suggesting that selective institutions should reserve a select number of places for students from local low and moderate-income backgrounds — although some have questioned how this will aid the mobility of disadvantaged students to travel to institutions nationwide.

The Trust also suggested the revision of university timetables to accommodate students travelling to lectures from home, and further argued for increased awareness of the restrictions on certain students to study away from home, due to cultural reasons.

Furthermore, the Review of Post-18 Education has been advised to consider the possibility of reforming the current student finance model, with the possibility of re-introducing previously-popular policies, such as means-tested fees and maintenance grants.