Recently there was an article in The Guardian where the writer questioned whether students were missing out by not venturing to a university more than 2 hours from home. Now, I could be very pedantic and pick holes in their arguments because frankly I found them flimsy and just because the author studied away does not make it the right choice for everyone, but I won’t; well, not much anyway.
Why stay home?
While there are various reasons for students moving away to study, there are also many reasons why some choose to stay at home too. Some, like me, just happen to live very close to one of the better university’s for their course, others have financial or personal reasons for staying close. Some, quite simply, do not want to move. The UK is not a large country, so depending on where you live, you will only be a few hours from home no matter where you move. Commuting isn’t cheap so even though you will be travelling home to visit your family, the cost of train tickets may make that less frequent than you would like.
Fellow Kettle writer Kealie Mardell studied both at home and aboard, and she said that knowing she wanted to study aboard before she applied to university dramatically narrowed down her options: ‘Studying abroad isn’t cheap, so in order to save money I decided to stay at home or with family so that I could save up during the first two years of my degree.’ I then asked, what about the age old debate of living at home vs living in? ‘A lot of people worry that you will miss out if you live at home and not on campus, but fortunately I was close enough to be able to travel in whenever I wanted to. I also met lots of people who were happy to offer me a place to stay, so I never missed nights out! You’re also in a great opportunity to offer local expertise to students who are new to the area.’
Kealie saved up to go and study in America, but in the EU you can get funding to study through the Erasmus programme (http://www.erasmusprogramme.com/). As long as your course has a link with an EU mainland university, you might be able to spend one academic year, or the summer break studying in another country. This is a great scheme that allows you to experience both independence and another culture for a short time without the commitment of a three year course. While the freedom to be in charge of your own life and making your own decisions is appealing and something we all experience at some point, not everyone is able to do that during their university career. Some students just aren’t ready, not forgetting older students and those that already have families; does their decision to stay at home to study mean that they automatically have less of the ‘university experience’?
With the cost of fees and living expenses rising, some students are taking drastic measures to fund their studies. A recent report in The Huffington Post stated that 1 in 20 students end up entering the sex work industry to pay their bills. A hugely drastic measure to simply be able to fund their studies and keep a roof over their head. University life is a different experience for everyone, to say a student who did not go down the same path as you missed out in some way is short sighted and blinkered; have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, they have had just as good, or even a better experience than you did?