Should Students Bring Their Cars To University?
With university granting students complete independence, it is no surprise that many choose to bring their car with them when they make the move. The convenience of being able to nip to the shops and avoid waiting in the rain for a bus is an unarguable perk, but in the long run will your car become a hindrance?
Apart from allowing you to pop to the shops whenever the feeling takes you, there are other clear advantages to this mode of transport. Having a car opens up the opportunity to keep a part time job back in your home town or undertake placements further afield, all of which could help when you eventually step out into the real world three or more years down the line. However, before loading up your car and making a university mix tape, there are some factors to take into consideration.
When your maintenance loan lands in your bank account, it might feel like you have hit the jackpot, but remember that your rent and bills all come out of this. If you are living in halls, this normally comes out in one lump sum per term, leaving you with only a fraction of the original amount. With petrol prices and car insurance costs always on the increase, these expenses will stretch your already tight student purse strings; factor in tax and MOT and your funds will start to look very low indeed.
Even if you are lucky enough to be able to afford the costs (or it is being paid for by the bank of mum and dad) you will need to look into parking around your university and residence. Most universities have limited spaces available, with priority going to staff and people with mobility needs. Therefore parking costs can be extremely high. These costs are also put in place to try encourage students to use other forms of transport. With the local community already having to deal with thousands of students descending every term, universities put on extra bus services to campuses with many also having cycle and car sharing schemes to keep congestion and pollution down.
Ian Murdey, Transport Coordinator of De Montfort University, explains their policy:
“We’re committed to reducing the carbon footprint of the university. It’s important that we encourage alternative forms of transport and this is something we’ve heavily invested in. For example, we provide free bike locks, inner tubes and puncture repair kits to inspire more of our students to cycle. We’re aware that around 15-20% of our students drive to university but, with our desire to reduce our carbon footprint, we now use Facebook and Twitter to communicate other options.”
Christopher Osbeck, Travel Plan Coordinator of the University of Aberdeen, says:
“We accommodate but discourage students from taking their cars. Most of our student accommodation is within walking distance of our teaching campuses and there is very little benefit to students of having a car on campus. Indeed, there are some security risks of having a car remain in the same location day after day. Our campuses are well served by buses that connect our campuses with shopping and leisure facilities. We also have a local car club available to students, which allows them to hire cars for relatively short periods of time when they may need one. We do accept that there are occasions when students may need to have access to a car and so provide some limited car parking.”
If you are living in halls, you must also factor in additional parking charges there, with most charging around £200 a year to have access to one of their limited spaces.
Overall, whether you take your car to university or not will differ on an individual basis. For some, the need to easily commute home will outweigh the drawback of additional costs; whereas to others the advantage of having extra money to spend on booze, food or even textbooks will be worth leaving your car behind. To help you weigh up your options, we have summarised the pros and cons below.