Everyday student mobilities:Exploring the relationship between wellbeing, inclusion and sustainability

Finn, Kirsty (2017) Everyday student mobilities:Exploring the relationship between wellbeing, inclusion and sustainability. SRHE/Open University Press.

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Students who commute experience travel and mobility in far more diverse – and often enriching – ways than the literature on inclusion and belonging in HE suggests. Travel time – either alone or with others – was understood by students for its therapeutic purposes and was a means through which they could manage their sense of emotional wellbeing and engage in co-present (i.e. through car-shares, and co-mobility) and virtual practices of intimacies (such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger groups). Choices about mode of transportation thus reflected the careful negotiation of concerns about comfort, affordability, affiliations to friends and kin, and efficiency, rather than single-issues such as cost reduction or green issues. Car use emerged as a key mode of transportation and it was clear that there is some tension between aims to recruit from the region and widen participation of underrepresented groups (first generation entrants, student-parents, etc.), and ‘green’ initiatives such as limiting the number of car parking spaces on campus. Everyday travel and mobility was experienced as integral, rather than as a barrier, to students’ feelings of belonging and inclusion at university. The more students felt their mobility needs, and rhythms, were understood and responded to (in both practical, pedagogic terms), the more they felt a sense of belonging to the university. Staff and students agreed that better signposting of services designed to facilitate everyday mobility (lockers, showers, car parking, overnight accommodation) would enhance feelings of belonging and inclusion and present commuting as one of several modes of participation, rather than as ‘other’. Staff and students agreed that provision for students who commute is patchy; this group is often hidden, falling within and between other minority groups i.e. mature students, students with mental health/access concerns, student-parents. The university is keen to set up a working group to consider how best to understand and respond to the needs of the emergent group of commuter students in the sector. N.B. Due to space, not all summary points are discussed in this report.

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07 Jul 2017 07:58
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12 Sep 2023 03:43