On 26 March, Carers Trust Wales welcomed education professionals from across Wales to a seminar on supporting carers in further and higher education. The event saw staff members from further and higher education providers across Wales come together to find out about Carers Trust Wales’ Time to be Heard Wales campaign.

Young adult carers are young people aged 14-25 who care, unpaid, for a friend or family member who could not cope without their support. According to the 2011 Census there are 29,000 young adult carers in Wales, many of who are in further or higher education. Carers Trust research shows that young adult carers are four times more likely to drop out of college of university than those without caring responsibilities. The research also shows that young adult carers have higher rates of poor mental and physical health than the average young person and that 45% said they did not have a particular person at college or university who recognised they were a carer.

During the course of the afternoon, those attending the seminar heard about the work we are doing to help young adult carers make their voices heard and also heard first-hand the experiences of higher education of a young adult carer. We took the opportunity to discuss our recommendations for colleges and universities in Wales and hear suggestions from those attending on what else could be done to support carers. The day also included a presentation from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales on the national approach to widening access and inclusion.

Carers Trust Wales used the event to launch the Welsh-edition of ‘Supporting Students with Caring Responsibilities: Ideas and Practice for Universities to Help Student Carers Access and Succeed in Higher Education’. The toolkit aims to enable universities and services supporting young adult carers to gain a greater understanding of the challenges that this group of students face, and how they can be better supported to access and succeed in higher education.

The resource:

  • Draws together some of the good practice universities have already begun to develop.
  • Makes recommendations for how universities can support students across the student live cycle

The toolkit also provides some clear ways forward for higher education institutions in Wales, providing examples of how to:

  • Publish a ‘Student Carer Commitment’
  • Develop a policy for young adult carers – either as a separate policy or by integrating student carers into existing policies
  • Include student carers in fee plans
  • Introduce a lead/champion for young adult carers
  • Provide awareness training on young adult carers for all relevant members of staff
  • Work with local authorities and local carers’ services
  • Monitor the number of students entering the university with caring responsibilities
  • Provide financial support to student carers through bursaries

You can download the Wales-edition of ‘Supporting Students with Caring Responsibilities: Ideas and Practice for Universities to Help Student Carers Access and Succeed in Higher Education’ below. If you have any questions or would like to be kept informed of future events and publications on supporting carers in education, please get in touch with Kieron Rees