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Carers Trust Scotland launches new resource to improve support for student carers across Scotland's colleges

College staff, student representatives and carer services from across Scotland are attending a launch event today at City of Glasgow College for Carers Trust Scotland’s new Going Further for Student Carers Recognition Award.

A new award scheme to assist and encourage colleges to develop their policies and practices to improve support for student carers, and award good practice.

The Going Further Award, supported by the College Development Network, and supported and funded by the Scottish Funding Council, aims to provide a framework that enables all 27 of Scotland’s colleges to identify, support and report on student carers who provide, unpaid care for a sick or disabled family member or friend while studying.

While the number of student carer enrolments at college across Scotland has increased from 3,413 in 2013-14 to 10,655 in 2016-17, many student carers continue to be unidentified and supported, and continue to be a hidden group. There are student carers in every college trying to successfully complete their course to the best of their ability just like their peers. Yet, they often experience additional challenges because of their unpaid caring responsibilities and do not always receive the support they need to successfully complete college. Stopping students with caring responsibilities from reaching their full potential, maintaining good health and wellbeing and having equal access to the opportunities open to other students.    

Colleges, national agencies, and student carers who provide, unpaid, care for a sick or disabled family member or friend while studying, will share their experiences and the merits of colleges committing to the Going Further for Student Carers Recognition Award. Student carers will provide an insight into the struggles they face while undertaking study at college as well as the difference that targeted student carer support has made to their lives. Some colleges will share the practice they are implementing to make a positive difference to the lives of their student carers. With the launch of the Going Further Award framework Carers Trust Scotland will be urging colleges to ensure student carers have a fairer chance to succeed in their education in Scotland and have access to relevant support. Vitally important, as our research shows that young adult carers are four times more likely to drop out of further education than other students because of lack of support.

Today’s event comes two years after the launch of our Going Higher for Student Carers campaign. Going Higher which is still active in Scotland, is asking all universities to include student carers when they look at the different groups that may need extra support to achieve their potential. To date three universities – Aberdeen University, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Strathclyde – and Inverness College have achieved their Going Higher for Student Carers: Recognition Award; with a further eight universities committed to, or in the process of, working towards their award.   

The 60 attendees will hear testimonies from student carers about their experiences of juggling college alongside caring responsibilities, and why it’s time for student carers to be heard at college. Our hope is that the event will help to raise awareness of the positive impact that specific student carer support provision can have on student carers as well as the wider culture, policy and practice of a college.

Scott Lafferty, former Policy & Campaigns Officer for Carers Trust Scotland, now Network Development Manager Scotland, said: “Our research and engagement with student carers demonstrate that student carers experience many challenges in balancing college and caring responsibilities. Carers who go to college should not be negatively impacted because of their unpaid caring responsibilities. We know from our Going Higher work with universities, that the award process makes a positive difference to the experience that carers have at university from matriculation to graduation; and universities have more capacity to support carers in a meaningful way.

Our Going Further for Student Carers: Recognition Award is built on three principles which it is calling on colleges to carry out:

  1. Identify the number of student carers attending or hoping to study at their institution.
  2. Support all student carers throughout their education to ensure they maintain good health, complete their course and achieve the best grades possible.
  3. Report on student carer progressions and showcase student carers’ achievements.

We are delighted to launch the Going Further for Student Carers: Recognition Award and work with colleges and institutions to develop student carer provision and celebrate good practice. We know from listening to some of the success stories, that with improved identification, policy and support developments, student carers can thrive. We want to see the needs of student carers being put at the forefront of the college agenda in Scotland.”

Further information

Email Scott Lafferty, Network Development Manager Scotland at slafferty@carers.org or call him on 0300 772 7701.  

More information about Going Further for Student Carers: Recognition Award

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