Commuter Student University of Choice Project

Background on the Project

The Commuter Student University of Choice Project ran initially from December 2019 until May 2020. The project was led by a Commuter Students Working Group, which was chaired by Professor Rajkumar Roy, Dean of the School of Science & Technology and included staff from across the University and SU.

Based on the definition of commuter students below (adapted from the definition of commuter students which was put forward by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI)) the working group determined that approximately 80% of City’s student population can be identified as a commuter student. City’s definition of a commuter student:

Students for whom the travel between their residence and principal study location (including placements or other locations attended regularly as part of a programme of study) materially affects their ability to succeed in higher education. Their residence could be a parental / guardian home, family home or private-rented accommodation.

Aims of the Project

The purpose of this project was to better understand the lived experience of students who commute to attend their studies or placements at City, through consultation and engaging with sector research, in order to make recommendations on ways that City can improve the experience of its commuters. The longer-term view of this work was to work towards becoming the University of Choice for commuting students in the UK.

During this project, the working group facilitated focus groups with over 30 students, and ran separate surveys for current students, staff and City alumni in order to understand a broad range of perspectives of commuting to City and some of the barriers that this presents which can have negative impacts on the student experience.

Project outcomes

The priority areas identified which needed to be addressed or improved upon in relation to the commuter student experience were:

  • Timetabling
  • Commuter Student Voice and Engagement Opportunities
  • Information, Advice and Guidance Available to Commuter Students
  • Social and Extra-Curricular Events and Activities
  • Storage, Facilities and Spaces On-Campus
  • Flexible Accommodation Options

As a result of the project, the following recommendations were:

  • Advocacy for Commuter Students at City
  • Introduction of a ‘Get Ready to be a Student’ Guide
  • Consistent Provision of Information
  • Health and Wellbeing Information
  • Student Community-Building
  • Develop Clearer Guidance on Latecomers, with Adherence to the Attendance Policy
  • Invest in Part-Time Work for Students
  • Introduce Student Events in the Daytime
  • Commuter Student Representation
  • Clarity and Parity on Lockers
  • Availability of Existing Spaces
  • Availability of Academic Office Hours
  • Closing the Feedback Loop
  • Healthier Food Options
  • Personalised Timetabling
  • Commit to Flexible, Online- and Blended-Learning Approaches at City to Ensure our Teaching and Learning are Suitable for Students in the 21st Century
  • Social Spaces and Community Events Specifically for Commuter Students
  • Engagement with the University of London
  • Additional Financial Support
  • App or Centralised Communications Providing All Student Information

These actions are now either underway or being planned for during the 2020/21 academic year, and have undergone a prioritisation process. We will revisit this work periodically to gather additional student feedback and evaluate the impact of the recommendations.

How you can get involved

To provide feedback on your experience as a commuter student, or to learn more about this project or any of the recommendations, please get in touch with the Student EDI team.