POOR students in Britain are three times more likely to live at home while attending university compared with their better-off colleagues, the Sutton Trust said in a study published today.
While a majority (56 per cent) of young people go to university less than 55 miles from home, state-school students are two-and-a-half times more likely to live at home than those who went to a private school, the education charity found.
The result is a two-tier student body, with stay-at-home and commuter students missing out on access to the best courses and the wider university activities that improve their networks and life skills.
Ethnicity is also an important factor in patterns of mobility, the study found. Students from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds were six times more likely than white students to remain living at home and study locally, a trend that has strengthened since the 2012 tuition-fee increase to £9,000 a year in England.
The University of Bath’s Dr Michael Donnelly said: “The traditional view of what it means to go away to university, moving out and far away, is very much the preserve of white middle-class and privately educated young people from the south of England.
“These differences represent a consistent and growing divide in higher-education experiences.”
To address the gaps in student mobility, the trust wants the government’s recently announced post-18 funding review to consider reforming student finance by reintroducing maintenance grants and means-tested fees. The report also recommended more flexible time-tabling of lectures and universities working to reassure families who may discourage their children from studying away from home for cultural reasons.
George Bunn, an activist with the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, told the Morning Star: “There are barriers in all areas of education, erected by those that know very little about the issues that disadvantaged students face.
“We need a system that has the representation of marginalised groups at all levels. A free education system with living grants for all, funded by taxing the rich, is the only way to seriously tackle inequality in education.”
Labour shadow minister for higher and further education Gordon Marsden MP said: “The Tories have created a student finance system that leaves the most disadvantaged students with the biggest debts, forcing them to limit their aspirations because of money.
“The next Labour government would abolish tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants to give all students the support they need.”
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