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Research shows relationship between student commuting and academic success

A train is photographed on a track.
Research shows relationship between student commuting and academic success 

President Emerita Dr. Sara Diamond and Faculty of Design Professor Jeremy Bowes, in collaboration with researchers from five universities across Ontario, have announced key results from the largest-ever study on student transportation.  

Launched in 2019, StudentMoveTO sought to understand ways to improve transportation experiences for post-secondary students in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). More than 15,000 students from 10 Ontario-based universities and colleges provided input over three years to inform the findings.  

"Our in-depth interviews...revealed a world of mobility issues that post-secondary students in the GTHA face as they are striving to coordinate school, work and entertainment in their lives,” said York University Professor and study Co-Investigator Dr. Roger Keil.  

“These issues are usually hidden from sight when one looks at student life purely from the point of view of the learning environment...Our findings will provide a plethora of insights for leaders in institutions of higher education and policymakers in the transportation field." 

Post-secondary students in the GTHA account for more than 600,000 daily commuters on an already crowded transportation system. The StudentMoveTO study was designed to help identify the changes required to improve transportation infrastructure and, in turn, increase quality of life for students. 

Here’s what students reported about their experience travelling to school: 

  • 61 per cent said their commute was a barrier to their campus participation 
  • 40 per cent said their commute discouraged them from coming to campus 
  • 48 per cent picked courses based on their commute 
  • 30 per cent viewed their commute as a barrier to their academic success 

Results of the study were discussed at a research symposium held earlier this month, co-hosted by York University and Toronto Metropolitan University. Researchers discussed the implications of the StudentMoveTO study and strategies for creating better transportation services in this region and improving student well-being.

The event included the presentation of a paper by Bowes titled, Visual Sensemaking for Student Mobility Data: StudentMoveTO, which was co-authored by Dr. Diamond. 

The StudentMoveTO study included participation from Centennial College, Durham College, OCAD University, McMaster University, Mohawk College, Toronto Metropolitan University, Sheridan College, Ontario Tech University, University of Toronto and York University from September 2019 to April 2022.