Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education School of Education, University of Sheffield


This is the first study into resident students and commuter students in Ireland and was carried out to facilitate a more informed and targeted approach to supporting specific student groups. The research is based on secondary data analysis of three national Eurostudent surveys undertaken in 2006, 2009 and 2013. Four different student cohorts were studied to examine differences in their living and social conditions and their levels of student engagement. The cohorts were: resident students; those living with their parents; renters; and home-owners. Much of the previous research into student residential arrangements has taken place in the US, and this study finds that the US research may not be applicable to the Irish situation.

The research indicates that, contrary to research from the US and the UK, students who live with their parents in Ireland are not from lower socio-economic groups. Indeed, they rank highest on many socio-economic indicators. As annual household income increases, the likelihood of a student living with their parents increases. It was also found that student halls in Ireland primarily serve students from higher socio-economic groups, and do not appear to serve the needs of mature students, who are more likely to own their own home or rent.

International research indicates that living in student halls has a positive impact on student engagement, which is not supported by this research. Students living on-campus spend a lower amount of time in educationally purposeful activities than average. Those in rented accommodation or home-owners spend the most time on these activities. However, resident students do spend the most amount of time on college activities (extra-curricular), which is positive for student engagement. Resident students are more likely to drink, consume more alcohol than other cohorts, and are more likely to exceed safe limits for alcohol consumption on a regular basis.

Several recommendations are made to improve the student engagement of the different cohorts.