A new website has launched to help students with children prepare for life as a student.
This website is a practical response to the report published by NUS in 2009 'Meet the Parents'. This research was the first UK-wide research into the experience of student parents, which highlighted the need for better information and guidance, particularly around student finance. The www.studentparents.org website has beeen developed by a consortium of organisations including NUS - and led by education charity BrightsideUNIAID and funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
The NUS ‘Meet the Parents’ report revealed a gap in targeted, clear information and guidance for student parents. Alongside practical challenges of limited time, money and childcare, they lacked the information and support they needed to prepare for, and cope with, the transition to higher education.
Studentparents.org provides a range of online information and tools including;
- ‘Jargon buster’ to provide clear information about student support
- Budget calculator with information about financial support and tools to build their own budget
- Tips on preparing for higher education, including time management, childcare options and study skills
- Case studies from students already balancing higher education with parenthood
The website is part of a wider programme piloting the use of ementoring to support student parents with the transition from further to higher education. Students at college who are thinking of going to university are mentored by student parents already studying at a local university. Mentoring pairs communicate online at a time and place which suits them, so mentees receive personalised support from someone who has been in their shoes, while mentors get a flexible way to volunteer, and access to a support network of other student parents. The programme is piloted in partnership with five Further Education Colleges and five Higher Education Institutions in England and supported by the Nuffield Foundation.
Ben Whittaker Vice President Welfare and Olivia Bailey, National Women's Officer, NUS said,
'NUS is thrilled to be involved with this project. Our extensive research showed that poor information provision - on everything from financial support through to coping with assignments when your children are off school - is a key barrier for this group. This website offers all parents the opportunity to explore the options available to them, as well as learn from the experiences of their peers. We hope the ementoring service will be able to expand in the future to ensure that all student parents can benefit from this fantastic resource.’