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NUS publishes first ever national research into the experiences of student carers

Wednesday 18 September 2013 Women

Learning with care, new NUS research reveals the experiences of students who are providing unpaid care whilst studying. The report exposes the the lack of support for student carers and the detrimental effect this has on their ability to access and succeed in education.

The report combines further analysis of NUS' Pound in your pocket research into student finance with qualitative in-depth interviews with student carers.

Key findings include:

  • Student carers had eperienced varying degrees of support from their institutions, but in all cases there was a lack of coordinated, systematic support
  • More than half of student carers (56 per cent) had seriously considered leaving their course, compared to 39 per cent of students without caring responsibilities
  • Student carers who were in receipt of Carer's Allowance did not feel the benefit was adequate, but the fact that full-time students are not eligible for Carer's Allowance was considered unfair and contributing to their financial hardship
  • Two thirds of student carers (67 per cent) regularly worry about not having enough money to meet their basic living expenses
  • Student carers indicated lower well-being than students without caring responsibilities across all seven indicators in the survey.
  • 15 per cent of student carers indicated that they had mental health difficulties, and our qualitative research shows that in some cases this can have a esrious effect on their studies.

The NUS women's campaign decided to undertake the research because of the gendered implications of caring.

Speaking about the report, NUS women's officer Kelley Temple said:

"Student carers--the majority of whom are women--are an invisible group in many universities and colleges. Despite the valuable service the provide to society, their support needs are often misunderstood or ignored by their education providers.

"Universities and colleges, as well as the Government, should take prompt action to rectify this and ensure that student carers are able to get the education they deserve. No woman should be denied access to education as a result of providing unpaid care."

The report makes seven recommendations, calling on the Government, the FE and HE sectors, institutions and students' unions to improve the experiences and lives of student carers.

Learning with Care - NUS research report cover

Download Learning with Care: Experiences of student carers in the UK