The long-established, coming-of-age tradition of turning 18, leaving home for uni and living in student accommodation (with that one weirdo who keeps his ham in a lock box inside the shared fridge) is now prohibitively expensive for more than half of new students. A new study by Sutton Trust – published just a week after Theresa May announced her review of higher education – claims that the experience of moving away from home while attending university is a luxury now largely only available to ‘white, middle-class, privately educated young people from the south of England.’
The direct correlation between social class and the likelihood of leaving the family home to attend university is irrefutable, according to the new report on social mobility. The study shows that disadvantaged students across the UK are three times more likely to live with their parents while studying than their most advantaged fellow students, opting for universities close to home that they can commute to easily.
British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi students are also over six times more likely to stay living at home and study locally than white students.
These patterns of inequality and privilege are geographic as well as social and ethnic – if you’re northern or Scottish, you’re also significantly less likely to move away from home to study than your southern counterparts.
Dr Michael Donnelly, University of Bath, who co-authored the report, claimed, “These differences represent a consistent and growing divide in higher education experiences.”
He also concluded, “University is a time of transition for young people, a time spent developing independence, building important life skills and when new kinds of social connections are made that can last a lifetime. Unequal access to these kinds of experiences could also produce knock-on effects as young people come to enter the labour market, exacerbating existing and deep-seated inequalities further.”