Student carers from across Scotland while studying are gathering at an event today hosted by Carers Trust Scotland (Friday 24 March).

Student carers who provide, unpaid care while studying will share their experiences with each other, MSPs and representatives from higher education institutions and organisations.

The student carers will give an insight into the struggles they face while undertaking higher education study, plus the difference that targeted student carer support has made to their lives.

They will be urging decision makers to ensure student carers have a fairer chance to succeed in their education in Scotland and have access to relevant support.

Research by Carers Trust showed that young adult carers are four times more likely to drop out of further and education than other students because of lack of support.

Juggling caring and education

Today's event, Student Carers in Higher Education: Showcase and Learning Exchange, is organised by Carers Trust Scotland and comes one year after the launch of the Going Higher for Student Carers campaign.

The Going Higher in Scotland campaign is asking all universities to include student carers when they look at the different groups that may need extra support to achieve their potential.

Today Carers Trust Scotland will also be launching Going Higher for Student Carers: Recognition Award - a new award scheme to assist and encourage higher education institutions to develop their policies and practices to improve support for student carers and award good practice.

The 100 attendees will hear testimonies from student carers about their experiences of juggling higher education alongside caring responsibilities.

We hope the event will help to raise awareness of the positive impact that specific student carer support provision can have on young people with caring responsibilities.

"Lack of understanding is a main fear for most student carers"

Student carer Ailsa Tweedie from Newmains, North Lanarkshire, who cares for her mum said:

"Caring for my mum while trying to balance my distance learning degree, volunteering roles and also trying to have a social life is really difficult. I was really struggling and was feeling isolated.

"Not many people that are my age fully understand what being a student carer can be like and lack of understanding is a main fear for most student carers.

For student carers the money we receive from student bursaries and loans is likely to be the only money we have. Unlike many other students we are unable to top up our incomes with part-time employment, it just isn’t possible for students with caring responsibilities.

"We need to be more proactive from enrollment to graduation through student carer support developments.

"Carers Trust Scotland's Going Higher for Student Carers campaign initiative will not only make a positive difference in my own life, but will positively impact the opportunities and support available for all student carers."

Going Higher for Student Carers initiative

Paul Traynor, Young Adult Carer Policy & Campaigns Officer for Carers Trust Scotland, said:

"Our research has highlighted that student carers experience many challenges in balancing higher education and caring responsibilities. Carers who have the opportunity to pursue higher education should not be negatively impacted because of their caring responsibilities.

"Our Going Higher for Student Carers initiative is built on three principles which it is calling on the higher education sector to carry out:

  • identify the number of student carers attending or hoping to study at their institution;
  • support all student carers throughout their education to ensure they maintain good health, complete their course and achieve the best grades possible; and
  • report on student carer progressions and showcase student carers' achievements.

We are delighted to launch the Going Higher for Student Carers: Recognition Award and work with higher education 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 higher education agenda in Scotland."

 

Research by Carers Trust showed the impact of caring on young adults in their education and employment prospects. This first large-scale survey of carers aged 14-25 revealed that 29% of young adult carers had to drop out of a university of college course due to the pressures of caring.

Find out more about Going Higher Scotland