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Reaching Home and heading off

Thursday 25-06-2015 - 16:42

Today, NUS has launched an exciting new report, Reaching Home, on the experiences on students living in the parental home during study. You can also download an executive summary here.

As I say in the report, when I was elected Vice President (Welfare) two years ago one of my goals was to ensure that NUS didn’t just focus on the groups we’ve always worked with, and that we highlighted the experiences of those who might be overlooked. I’ve been working with care leavers and nursing students recently to understand their needs, and NUS has a proud tradition of research on other under-represented groups like student parents and student carers. But as many of you know there’s plenty of diverse groups in the student movement that need to be heard.

For that reason, and to fulfil a conference mandate from 2014, this report examines the experiences of students who live at home during study. As it outlines, the fact that those living in halls or in the private rented sector often have more visible challenges which mean other groups get forgotten about – and make no mistake, this can be as true of the students’ unions as it is of institutions.

This report draws together the available evidence on these students to help you understand them better, to explain their characteristics and motivations, as well as analysing why moving away for HE study is so prevalent. Then it takes an unusual perspective for an NUS report, asking what policy and practice currently exist in institutions, and what the motivations are for what’s in place. It shows that the experiences of students living at home are often hidden and as such their needs may not be being met. This is not to say there isn’t excellent work out there we can learn from – one great example is Manchester SU's Living at Home society.

I should also be clear that NUS isn’t suggesting that living in the parental home during study is either good or bad: for some people it’s absolutely the right decision, but for others it’s not. We wouldn’t want any decision to be made on the basis of finance alone – but as the evidence demonstrates there often will be a variety of factors involved. What we do want is for universities and colleges to recognise that students living at home will have specific needs and to reflect those needs in their policies and practice.

NUS will obviously consider how to take the recommendations forward with students’ unions and institutions so look out for more details soon.

This is my final blog after two amazing years as VP Welfare. I’m really happy I’m using it to launch a new report, so I can go out on a high – but it makes me really sad I won’t be around to work with student officers on this issue or indeed on all the other brilliant welfare campaigns that I know SUs will run in the next year. Welfare truly is the best part of the student movement (okay, I may be biased) with some of the most talented officers, and I can’t wait to hear about all the #welfarewins you secure in the future.

There’s going to be some tough battles but I know you’ll rise to the challenge. Good luck!

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