Making academic and union structures accessible for parents and carers

Friday 05-02-2016 - 10:37

I'm pleased to announce the launch of a new student parents and carers roundtable.

I’ve often said there is no such thing as a student that is ‘hard to reach’ or ‘hard to engage’, but it is academic and union structures that are inaccessible. Student parents and carers are a hidden group of students who face unique barriers and challenges in accessing and succeeding in education. 

With recent cuts announced to both Higher and Further Education, and an overwhelming focus from governments on policies that think students are just 18 year old school leavers with no caring responsibilities, it is important we challenge all assumptions of what works in education.  So we need to make sure we hear from those students who are often sidelined, forgotten or simply ignored by many institutions. As a movement fighting for accessible education for all, we need to be more knowledgeable and creative with our solutions, and think beyond the obvious issues like creches on campus, really delving into ways in which academic environments exclude certain students and then really work to fix that, not just talk about it.  

On Friday 4th of March, I'm hosting a roundtable discussion event for student parents and carers in education from across the nations. This is part of a new project aimed looking at policies and measures to improve the funding, access and academic experience of these groups of students, as well as aiming to produce guidance on approaches unions can take to improve the representation and democratic participation for these students.

The NUS Learning with Care report presented the findings of the first ever national research into the experiences of student carers in further and higher education. The subsequent 'Supporting Students with Caring Responsibilities' report explored ideas and practice for universities to help student carers to access and succeed in education.

From workshops that we've held at NUS events on this we have identified a need to discuss how recent education funding reforms and cuts are impacting on these students, a need to look at specific issues faced by these students in the nations outside England and a need to form stronger structures within Students' Unions to make the voices of these students heard. 

We want to hear about your experiences of engaging with academic and representational structures in your institution. We welcome students, representatives for student parents and carers, as well as full-time officers with an interest in the issue. 

The event will be held in the NUS London office and will be offering free childcare, but also at NUS Scotland, NUS Wales and NUS-USI offices with Skype in facilities.

To register visit the NUS Connect page:

Check out the Facebook event and invite those who might be interested

If you have any questions please email me at

In unity,




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