News - October 11, 2012

Up and down

Packed trains and buses bear witness to the increasing number of Wageningen students who commute between home and university. Travelling times of three to four hours are not exceptional. Who are these new commuters and why are they doing it?

Seven thirty on a weekday morning and you have to fight for a place on the 88 bus to the Wageningen campus. Per hour there are six of these extra-long articulated buses with the capacity to carry over 100 passengers. And it is not enough, as everyone who depends on this service is aware by now. Bus company Syntus sees the problem too and will soon be providing eight buses an hour. What the company particularly notices, says a Syntus spokesman, is that there are more students on the busses throughout the day. 'We only used to get a peak around class times.'
Pressure on the accommodation market
Bus line 88 is indicative of the growing use of public transport by students. Where does this trend spring from? A glance at the statistics quickly reveals the underlying cause: over the past five years the number of first-years has grown by over 70 percent, while the number of rooms available from housing provider Idealis remained more or less the same. So although the number or private rooms available did increase somewhat over this period, the pressure on the student accommodation market went on building up. This is clear on the trains and buses bringing people to the campus in the first few months of the academic year.
Clear cutoff point
But there are other reasons contributing to this as well. Some students opt to stay at home for financial reasons, playing it safe in anticipation of the threatened scrapping of the basic grant for all Dutch students. In the words of one of the commuters featured here: 'If I leave home I won't have all the travelling time but that will be cancelled out by the hours I'll have to work to pay the rent.'
There is also a new group as a result of the newly introduced clear cutoff point between Bachelor's and Master's programmes. More and more Dutch students are now doing their Bachelor's degree at one university and their Master's at another. They do not always want to leave their room and friends behind, so they commute. This group is still small but is expected to grow in the years to come. Lastly, there are the traditional commuters: students who prefer to go on living at home for a while, whether for the sake of their part-time job, their sports club or their mother's culinary skills. Regardless of the inconvenience of the journey.
'I make good use of my time'
Billy Scaf

Commuting time: 3.5 hours per day
First-year, MSc Animal Sciences
'I travel up and down every day from Den Bosch, where I studied at the HAS. The connection between Den Bosch and Wageningen is not good. You can go via Arnhem or Utrecht but either way it takes an hour and three quarters. I commute on average four days a week. To be on time for my 9.30 class I have to get up at a quarter to six. I put my three and a half hours of commuting time a day to good use by reading articles on the train. But it is not ideal. I would really like a room in Wageningen but then I would want to live independently. I registered with Idealis on 2 January 2012 and now I am ninth on the waiting list so I hope to get a room within four weeks. 
 'I don't want to give up Handball'
Maarten Rutting

Commuting time: 1 hour 40 minutes per day|
First-year, BSc Biology:
'I travel in every day from Odijk, south of Bunnik. It takes me around 50 minutes, which is quite doable. I am not looking for a room; I will carry on commuting because of my sport. I play handball at quite a high level in Houten and I have to train for that six times a week. I don't want to give that up. It does mean getting up at 6 o'clock. So far the travelling is not too bad. In period one I only start at 10.30 three days a week and I'm done at 3.15 on two afternoons. So on those days I am home in time for dinner. Sometimes the train is chock-full, especially on Mondays and Fridays. Then I have to stand.'
'I don't like going out'
Marlou Brouwers

Commuting time: 3 hours per day
First-year, MSc Animal Sciences
'I live with my parents in Beers, just south of Cuijk in east Brabant. It takes one and a half hours by train from Cuijk to Wageningen. Not bad. Before this I was at the HAS in Den Bosch and I commuted up and down. You get used to it. I get up at 20 to 6 in the morning. It is early, yes. I am not looking for a room in Wageningen. Living away from home has never appealed to me. I don't miss student life, as I don't like going out on the town. I prefer just to meet up with friends. Anyway, it is expensive. If I got fed up with commuting and wanted a room after all, I would have to work on the side to pay the rent - and then you spend a lot of time on that. I go by train. If I can't handle that anymore I can always take my parents' car. It is much faster by car, takes about three quarters of an hour, but it is quite a bit more expensive.'
'There are 50 in the queue before me'
Sophie Zwartsenberg

Commuting time: 3.5 hours
First-year MSc Biology
'I live with my parents in Deventer. It takes an hour and a half to Wageningen, depending on the connection. I am pretty fed up with it. My timetable for the first period is not very friendly either, as I have classes from 8.30 to 5.15, five days a week. I get up at 5.30 in the morning and I get home at 7.30 in the evening. It is very tiring, and I don't have time for homework in the evening as I just want to go to bed. It is quite hard to get much studying done on the train because I have to change three times. I can't find a room in Wageningen. I have registered with Idealis but there are 50 in the queue before me. I only started looking in the summer holiday because it was only then that I knew for sure I could come to Wageningen. I did Applied Biology in Den Bosch and I had to pass a test to be admitted to the Master's. Now there are very few rooms left. I should really get together with fellow students in student houses but in the evenings I am at home in Deventer. It is hard to look for a room while you are commuting. I hope I find a room before the winter.'
'I need the money'
Nick Lettink
Commuting time: 2.5 hours per day
Second-year, MSc Facility Management:
'I live in Doetinchem. My alarm goes off at 6 o'clock three days a week. The journey takes me an hour and a quarter by train and bus, if there are no delays. If trains run very late, the connection between Doetinchem and Arnhem is a disaster. But there is no alternative. I don't want to live in Wageningen. I am doing a two-year Master's and I am already in the second year so I have less than a year to go. I have a very good part-time job at a printer's in Doetinchem. I couldn't have found a better job and I really need the money as I don't get any grant now I've been studying for six years. I didn't choose to study in Wageningen for the student life. When I go out, I go to Nijmegen or Arnhem.'
'The commuting is quite doable'
Aster Boeschoten

Commuting time: 1 hour 40 minutes per day
First-year, BSc Forest and Nature Management: 
'The travelling is fine. It takes me about 50 minutes a day from Driebergen. The connection is good, although I do have to get up early. I usually leave at 5 past 7 and get back home about 6.30. Sometimes I try and do some studying on the train but often it doesn't work because it is such a short trip. If I had a room of my own I would probably spend the same amount of time on cooking and things like that, so I don't have to do it to save time. But I would still prefer to have a room of my own. I want to look after myself and to experience Wageningen student life. I wouldn't want to spend all my student years living at home. But on the other hand, since the travelling is quite doable I am not searching very hard for a room.'
'I am only here to get my degree'
Denise Jacobs
Commuting time: 3 hours per day
First-year, MSc Facility Management:
'I live in Rotterdam and I deliberately chose Wageningen because the programme here follows on well after my applied science Bachelor's. The travelling suits me fine, though it took some getting use to. I've hardly ever been delayed. My classes usually start at 9.30 and I am home around 3 o'clock, but sometimes I have to be on the train by 5 past 6. I travel about three hours a day. I can study during that time. I read an article or do my maths on the train. It was a conscious choice. Living in Wageningen was not an option, since I had just started living together with my partner. I didn't come to Wageningen for the student life; I am just here to get my degree in two years and then I will look for a job.'
'A smartphone is perfect on the journey'
Jerry Gumbs

Commuting time: 3 hours per day
First-year, BSc Environmental Sciences:
'I come from Curacao and I have a room in Arnhem. My room was arranged for me by the Curacao student grant foundation and it is fine. This is my first time in the Netherlands and in that situation it is not easy to look for a room yourself. If I want to be at the university by 8.30 I have to leave the house an hour and a half before that. I sleep on the way, or I ping, Wapp, Facebook and tweet with my friends. A smartphone is perfect on the journey.
When I go out I go to Nijmegen or I just stay in Arnhem. Perhaps I miss out on the student life in Wageningen. I would actually quite like to join a student society but I am afraid of that taking time away from my sport - basketball. I train three times a week at a club in Wageningen. Swap basketball for a student society? Never! Perhaps I will have second thoughts at some point and want move to Wageningen after all. In case that happens I have registered with Idealis. But this year I shall definitely stay in Arnhem.'