Carers Trust Scotland and Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) are helping  students balance higher education with unpaid care responsibilities for family and friends to mark Carers Week.

Sandra White MSP  joined student carers and Carers Trust Scotland to launch GCU’s new policy which ensures that student carers are positively supported from an early stage in their studies.

In Scotland alone, it is estimated that there are at least 759,000 carers aged 16 and over and 29,000 young carers. The value of care provided by carers in Scotland is calculated at more than £10 billion a year.

The new GCU policy provides advice and guidance to students who, during their studies, are caring for a relative or friend who could not cope without their support, and to university staff who have a role in advising or supporting students who are carers.

Paul Traynor, Carers Trust Scotland’s Young Adult Carer Policy and Campaigns Officer, said:

“Young adult carers are four times more likely to drop out of college or university than students who are not young adult carers. Carers who have the opportunity and ability to go to university should not be negatively impacted because of their caring responsibilities. The Going Higher for Student Carers campaign wants to see student carers being put at the forefront of the higher education agenda in Scotland.

“GCU Students’ Association and the university have been vital partners in encouraging student carers to seek support when needed. We are delighted to have worked with GCU on the development of its Student Carers’ policy.”

Jackie Main, Director of Student Life at GCU, said:

“As the university for the Common Good, we are committed to providing students access to the support they need to help them fulfil their potential. Over the past year we have done a lot of work on ensuring we have a robust policy framework in place which helps deliver this. Our Student Carers’ policy is a key aspect of this and reinforces our commitment to providing as supportive an environment as possible for our students who are juggling caring responsibilities with their studies.”

Ms White, who met  student carers on GCU’s Glasgow city centre campus, said:

“I am delighted to be able to support this excellent policy from Glasgow Caledonian University. Having a number of educational institutions within my constituency of Glasgow Kelvin, I am well aware of the many challenges that face students. Unfortunately, in certain circumstances these challenges can become obstacles that prevent individuals from completing their education.

“It cannot be overstated how vital carers are, not only to those who rely on them but also to our society as a whole. The Student Carers’ policy from GCU should therefore not only be welcomed but praised.”