Supporting Higher Education in London

Report Publication: Commuter Students in London

Commuter students in London: Overview of project findings

14 August 2019
Between April 2018 and February 2019 London Higher conducted a pilot project to understand some of the characteristics and perceptions of commuter students studying in London. Two reports have been produced and are published by London Higher today:
• Results of a pilot project on factors affecting continuation (Paresh Shah, London Higher) Download PDF
• Qualitative perceptions of students about commuting and studying in London (Liz Thomas Associates) Download PDF

Using a standard data analysis framework, travel time was found to be a significant predictor affecting progression or continuation for full-time first degree first year undergraduates at three of the six London participating institutions*, after accounting for the expected influence of subject of study and other factors such as entry qualifications. Since continuation is the single most weighted indicator in the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF), accounting for 25% of the metrics, then travel time and associated factors influencing continuation need further investigation for key student characteristics and possible mitigation actions.

A qualitative study on perceptions of commuter students was commissioned by London Higher and conducted by Liz Thomas Associates. Workshops were organised by trained student-peer-researchers at five of the participating institutions. Some of the main findings included students who framed commuting positively, valuing a separation between home and study, and who viewed studying more like employment. Students were striving for good degree outcomes and graduate employment, but not valuing wider engagement in the student experience. Issues of disability and mental wellbeing were discussed openly and could be explored in further work. The study also included a series of practical suggestions from commuter students themselves on how institutions can address the challenges they encounter.

Key recommendations from the pilot project:
• Work towards a common definition and measure of commuter students for the sector;
• Adoption of the standard analysis framework by HEIs outside of the pilot project group;
• Incorporate HEI-based analyses of continuation factors in TEF bench-marking and outcomes;
• Develop a commuter student charter or set of standards that all HEIs could aspire to.

Jane Glanville, CEO of London Higher said today “This piece of work takes our understanding of commuting students to a new level. London Higher will be looking to discuss the recommendations with our members and stakeholders. We will also be sharing the standard analysis framework with our members as soon as possible and encouraging use of the toolkit”.

*Participating HE institutions:
• Kingston University London
• Middlesex University London
• SOAS, University of London
• University of East London
• University of Greenwich
• University of West London

For further details of the reports and other London Higher publications, please visit our Research Reports page.

PRESS Contact:
Paresh Shah, Research Manager
T 020 7391 0681