Sian Dickie discusses the motion she put forward in council
During March student council a motion was passed to implement a Commuting Students’ Part-Time Officer (known as Liberation officers as of 2019/2020).
The motion passed in council with an overwhelming 84.8%. As a constitutional motion, the position needed over 60% to pass. In council, I discussed why the role was needed and what the role could do if someone was to hold the position next year. This included things such as better transport options, a more inclusive Fresher’s Week and more storage facilities on campus.
Often, people who commute to University face larger transport fees. They may have stayed at home to save money, and often these travel expenses can contribute to the student having a low attendance rate at University classes and society activities. Arguably, someone fighting for better transport rates for students in the North East, is beneficial for every student, because everyone knows how tight student budgets can be.
More specifically, the Commuting Students’ role could help to create a more inclusive and accessible Fresher’s week. Living at home means that students may not have friends to attend activities with because unlike the majority of Freshers they have not met people in Halls of Residence This can be particularly difficult with regards to integration of those students, some of whom don’t feel like they belong on campus due to living further out.
Students living at home and commuting to University are a growing demographic and due to the aforementioned reasons some feel that they lose the ‘true’ University experience. A report published by the Higher Education Policy Institute in December 2018 found that commuting students “have poorer outcomes than those who move away from home and are less engaged and satisfied with their academic experiences.” The rise in this demographic has led to other Universities, such as Birmingham and Hertfordshire, implementing their own officers to represent the experiences of those who commute to University.
Commuting student Martha Dale said “As someone who travels to University everyday, I would find a Commuting Students’ Officer very helpful because we are faced with large expenses for travel tickets and challenges with participating in social and extra-curricular activities. It would be great to have someone who can represent us within the Students’ Union and make changes to existing University policy.”
The Commuting Students’ Officer role must be filled by someone who is from the North East and has commuted to campus for some or all of their degree. Students could live as far from University as Redcar, Hexham, Northumberland, Sunderland or Gateshead. Nominations for the position open 15th April.
"As a commuting student I created this motion as I felt there was a need for better representation in the Student Union, for those who live at home and commute to campus."