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Emma Landsburgh discusses the difficulties commuting students are facing this academic year, especially in addition to COP26.

Although COP26 is an amazing opportunity for Scotland and for the battle against the climate crisis, it’s causing major disruption to those living in or trying to get to Glasgow. For students, there has been confusion about the adaptation of classes for those who rely on public transport during COP26, with many faculty not considering the impact that the transport strikes would have on students. Some students have had their classes moved entirely online while others have not, posing an impossible situation for students who commute from home. 

This is an age-old issue for commuting students, or “home students”. We are often forgotten about and there isn’t much support for us - I would know, as a commuter student myself. It takes me an hour and a half to reach campus, combining both the rail and subway. When I heard about the strikes I considered the repercussions if I could not make it into Glasgow, like many other students - would I miss out on learning material, or worse, be penalised for my absence? Luckily, I have been given notice that my classes have been moved back online for the duration of the conference.

It is very clear that in a city as big as Glasgow, the student population rely on public transport to make it onto campus, whether that’s by rail, bus or subway. Even pathways have now been closed, making it difficult to even walk to campus. If you don’t live in the West End, public transport is your only means to make it to the University. Getting into Glasgow during COP26 will be chaotic and stressful, if not impossible. 

The occasion of COP26 calls for measures and support to be provided for students under any kind of transportation strain from cancelled trains to delayed buses. Within higher education, there seems to always be an assumption that people are renting within Glasgow. This year that is evidently not true due to the housing crisis in the city. It isn’t responsible for the University to neglect students who rely on transport, especially when first years were placed in student accommodation in Paisley, which is at least a thirty-minute commute by train. Commuting students already miss out on parts of the university experience, such as societies or committee meetings due to the times that meetings are held at. We even struggle to take books out of the library due to loan times. 

Many students, including myself, are left frustrated as we are back to online classes again. It seems like the whole city of Glasgow is being put on hold, with many of the public feeling at a loss about how to go about their daily lives. I can’t deny that COP26 is an amazing thing that will hopefully lead to change, but it’s important to acknowledge the disruption it will cause for the whole of Glasgow and towns across the central belt. For the first two weeks of November, Glasgow University and its large travelling community will be forced to a standstill. 

I believe that this is an opportunity to see how measures can be introduced to support commuting students, even after COP26 is over. COP26 has shown how dependent the university’s students are upon transport. 


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