Disadvantaged students THREE TIMES more likely to stay at home for uni
Ethnic background and even where someone lives in the country have been found to have an impact, too.
Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are over three times more likely than their more privileged peers to live at home while at uni, according to a recent study.
The research, carried out by The Sutton Trust, found that white, middle-class, privately-educated students are the most likely to move long distances for their university education, while poorer students more commonly end up living at home and commuting to uni.
In fact, in 2014/15, the majority of students stayed local for university. Over half (55.8%) attended a university within 55 miles of their home, while just one in 10 studied somewhere over 150 miles from their permanent home address.
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of The Sutton Trust, an educational charity that aims to improve social mobility and tackle educational disadvantage, said:
In the modern economy it is often those who are most mobile who are most likely to find success [..] but too often, the opportunity to move away is restricted to those from better-off homes.
Which students are most likely to study away from home?
When you dig down deeper into the stats, the divide between those who move away for university, and those who don't, is even more striking.
Notably, state school pupils were 2.6 times more likely to stay at home for university compared to those who were privately educated.
Divisions by social class were just as telling. Of those from the lowest class, 44.9% commuted from home – a stark contrast to the highest social class, where just 13.1% chose not to move away for uni.
But sadly, the distinctions don't end there. White students are by far the most likely to move away from home for their studies, with British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi students over six times more likely to study locally.
Since tuition fees increased to £9,000 (and beyond), the chances of British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi students choosing to study at a nearby university have substantially increased.
Ethnic background and social class aside, where a student lives in the UK also seems to be a contributing factor to whether or not they decide to study away from home. Students from northern regions of England – and in particular the North East – were far less likely to move away for uni.
In fact, students from the North East who were interviewed by The Sutton Trust were much more likely than students from other parts of the country to cite financial pressures as their reason for staying local for their degree.
Recent years have seen the chances of Scottish students making a long-distance move for university drop, too. However, this could well be down to the huge difference in tuition fees in Scotland and England. North of the border they're capped at £1,820/year, while in England you're likely to pay £9,250/year.
Does it matter if you study locally?
The findings of The Sutton Trust's study are certainly striking, and the differences between the social classes, ethnic backgrounds, and even geographical location are clear for all to see.
But you might be wondering, “Does it matter whether or not you move away for uni? Surely the most important thing is that you get a good degree?” To an extent, this is true – your future job prospects almost certainly won't depend on where you lived during your time at uni.
- Use our rent calculator to see how much you can afford to spend on accommodation
- Cut the cost of renting by switching energy supplier and saving £200+ every year
However, as The Sutton Trust chairman, Sir Peter Lampl, points out, this argument is only valid if the universities near you can offer what you're after:
Depending on where you were born, your access to the best universities can be severely limited without travelling significant distances.
Those from all backgrounds should be encouraged and helped to consider travelling to the best university for their needs.
He also noted the benefits that can come from studying in particular locations:
Moving to London, or other large cities in the UK, can be an ‘escalator' for social mobility.
Sir Lampl also echoed Save the Student's calls for improvements to the UK's student finance offering, arguing that this would enable more students to study at the best university for them, rather than just the closest:
The student finance system also urgently needs to be reformed, including restored maintenance grants and means-tested tuition fees, so a lack of money is no longer a barrier to accessing the best education.
Finally, he was keen to stress that there is nothing inherently bad about staying local for your degree – but that the quality of this education should be ensured:
It is also important for those who wish to – or indeed need to – stay at home that there are excellent local options for everyone. It is crucial that these local opportunities include high quality apprenticeship options too.
Worried about being able to afford to live away from home? Check out our list of ways to save on renting and see how you can cut the costs.