Care for our student carers

4 Dec

30 November is Carers Rights Day, which draws attention to the issues faced by carers and tries to make sure that carers are aware of their rights, so that they don’t miss out on support. I think the time has come to address the needs of a previously hidden group of carers: student carers.

The NHS estimates that 6 per cent of students are carers , but very few institutions have policies in place to understand who their student carers are, what their needs might be, and how they can be supported.

Evidence from research on carers in general, and especially on young adult carers, has found that student carers face significant disadvantages in their education. This includes disadvantage to their academic or learning activities, as well as to their student life more broadly.

These disadvantages are often compounded by a lack of understanding from tutors, lecturers, and other university and college staff.

In addition, due to the additional costs associated with caring, along with the fact that full-time students are not eligible for Carer’s Allowance, student carers often face significant financial worries. Twelve per cent of carers aged 16-34 have had their ability to take up or stay in education or training affected by their caring responsibilities.

On Carers Rights Day, I encourage students’ unions to reach out to their student carers and let them know about any support that is available to them. If there isn’t any specific support available for student carers, students’ unions should ask their institutions why not!

Support for student carers is especially important to me. Student carers are disproportionately women in the UK and, given the way that there is an expectation that caring is ‘women’s work,’ this is not surprising.

That is why the NUS Women’s Campaign will be conducting the first ever UK-wide research into the experiences of student carers. In the new year, we will be interviewing student carers about their experiences in education and their support needs, so that we can understand how universities, students’ unions, and the government can best provide support for students carers.

The NUS Women’s Campaign doesn’t think that it is fair for student carers who are disproportionately women to be shut out of education for providing a vital service to others. Local authority cuts will impact on carers hard with vital respite and support being removed, and increase in the number of women providing unpaid care and it is crucial that we prevent the further marginalisation and exclusion of women from education.

If you are a student carer and would like to participate in our research, please get in touch with me at

Thanks very much, i look forward to hearing from you soon,

Kelley Temple
NUS Women’s Officer

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