Building a sense of belonging among tertiary commuter students: The Monash Non-Residential Colleges program

Student engagement at university is significantly influenced by sense of belonging. In 2013, our university developed a novel extra-curricular program designed to foster a sense of belonging in students who commute to university – the Monash Non-Residential Colleges (NRC) program. This study examines whether participation in the Monash NRC program changed students’ perceptions about their university experience and their sense of belonging to the university community. We show that our NRC program appears to be effective in fostering a more positive university experience for students when compared with non-NRC students. Additionally, we demonstrate that our NRC program influenced students’ sense of belonging through increased interaction with peers and staff as well as greater reported attendance on campus.