Long commutes to Vancouver colleges lead to brain drain as students leave
Transportation survey at Langara College reveals cost of transit woes for schools
Commuting hours on transit each day to get to class is a fact of life for many Vancouver college students. But the inconvenience is causing a brain drain as some students switch to schools outside the region, a survey of Langara College students revealed.
A transportation survey at Langara College found a significant number of students are leaving after they start classes.
Comments from students in the survey show many either can't afford to live close to Vancouver so they commute. Many of those who commute face long hours in transit.
Both factors are pushing students to colleges elsewhere.
"There is a shift happening and it only takes a semester or two to realize that there are other options when you have to commute so long," said Mike Smith-Cairns, a geography instructor at Langara. He is also the project coordinator with Hub for Active School Travel, which advocates for student commuters.
The group conducted the survey in 2017 and is finalizing the results, which are set to be published shortly.
"Over the course of about seven years, since 2010, there was a drop of nearly 60 per cent in the students living in Vancouver," Smith-Cairns told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.
During that time, transit capacity has spiked. At Langara, more than 70 per cent of faculty, students and staff take public transit to the college. The bus lines and nearby Canada Line SkyTrain station are often packed.
Impact in the classroom
Smith-Cairns said students are travelling to Vancouver from all over the Lower Mainland, including from New Westminster, the outskirts of Surrey, White Rock and as far as Abbotsford sometimes.
"With these longer commutes, it's having a potential effect on their academic performance," he said. "I've seen it in the classroom especially with early morning classes."
In particular, he said, international students who come to study in Vancouver and opt to live with family and friends in municipalities like Surrey are affected. At Langara, just under one third of students are international.
"[They'll] set up shop when they get here and then realize that they've got to commute an hour or an hour and half every day to get to and from school," he said.
With files from The Early Edition.