The Role of the Campus Environment in Fostering a Sense of Mattering among Postgraduate Commuter Students in Botswana

Dawn Lyken-Segosebe, Mbiganyi Moremi, Mbizo Mafuraga, Benjamin Mogotsi


Commuter students can be found at practically every institutional type in higher education. Despite their increasing numbers as students returning to pursue Master’s and PhD programs, little is known about postgraduate commuter students and their experiences at US and international universities. A mixed-methods embedded design was utilized to investigate whether and how postgraduate commuter students at a rural public research-intensive university in Botswana perceived they mattered or were marginal to their university. Findings revealed that the physical, human aggregate, organizational, and socially constructed environments of the university influenced perceptions of mattering among study participants. Postgraduate students perceived they did not matter to the university because of its focus on undergraduates, its approach to managing postgraduate education, its failure to provide postgraduate housing, and the cost and unavailability of transportation. However, the availability of a teaching assistantship and supervisors’ interest and support fostered the sense among these students that they were receiving attention, considered important, depended on, and empathized with.

Keywords: mattering, marginality, commuter students, postgraduate student experience, campus environments

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Copyright (c) 2019 International Journal of Higher Education

International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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