Published: 6 December 2021 at 13:00
ARU Peterborough Principal calls on the Government to tackle rural inequalities
The Principal of ARU Peterborough has called on the Government to help tackle transport inequalities, which he believes are one of the main barriers to social mobility.
ARU Peterborough’s next Open Day, on Saturday, 11 December, is being supported by Greater Anglia and Stagecoach East, who have come on board to provide free train and bus travel to prospective students.
Professor Ross Renton is grateful for the help of these companies, whose backing will ensure that transport costs don’t prevent young people from learning more about Peterborough’s new university.
However, he would like to see the Government develop bold plans to address the cost and frequency of rural transport, particularly in areas such as Fenland, which he believes cause significant issues for young people wanting to access life-changing educational opportunities.
Professor Renton, Principal of ARU Peterborough, said:
“We are extremely grateful that both Stagecoach East and Greater Anglia are supporting our Open Day by offering free travel. Inclusivity is one of ARU’s core values and it is important that everyone who wants to attend our Open Day on 11 December can do so.
“However, I believe there needs to be greater Government attention focused on tackling the public transport issues that prevent students from getting to and from university campuses and colleges on a regular basis.
“This travel to learn challenge is more than just the prohibitive cost of travelling to a place of learning or the lack of income to cover the cost. It also concerns accessibility, for example sporadic timetables or no public transport options whatsoever. Rural communities are impacted more than most, with low population densities in many villages causing the unviability of regular bus routes.
“As part of the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda, I’d like to see the Government implement initiatives to integrate transport and education, helping to both widen education participation and transform currently isolated rural communities, both in this area and across the country.
“We could be even bolder as a nation and reduce or eradicate transport fares for full-time students and apprentices entirely. Increasing the number of students using public transport is likely to enhance viability and the availability of services, helping everyone living in a rural community, while at the same time benefitting the environment through fewer car journeys.
“ARU Peterborough will be offering life-changing opportunities to young people from Peterborough and the wider region, helping to level up an area that has traditionally been a higher education ‘cold spot’. I believe it is incredibly important that transport doesn’t stop young people’s ambitions in their tracks.”