A young adult carer is campaigning for a small change to the UCAS form that would make a huge difference for young adult carers and student carers.
Carol Hayward is one of many young adults who know what it is like to be a carer as well as a student. She is campaigning to get UCAS forms changed so that universities can get information from applicants about whether they care, unpaid, for someone who has an illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction. This change would mean that universities can give carers extra information when they apply to university and when they start their course.
She began the petition stating: “I was shocked and disheartened to find that although UCAS offers support for people who have been in care, and the Student Loans Company offers extra financial support for those who have financial dependants, there is no support mentioned for those who are carers and UCAS makes no effort to identify this group who need their support.”
Research conducted by Carers Trust last year found that young adult carers are four times more likely to drop out of university. For many, the struggles of balancing caring responsibilities with their studies is too much to cope with. There are approximately 21,000 young adult carers in Wales, so Carers Trust Wales is backing the campaign to see UCAS change its form, opening the door for universities to identify student carers and provide the support they desperately need to complete their education.
Alex Atkins, a student at University of Wales Trinity St David, is a carer for her mother. She said: “I am a carer and during university it was really important I was supported because It helped me stay in education knowing I had support when I needed it. There is currently no system to identify them in Universities and having a tick box system would help universities know they have carers and led to them being supported correctly.”
Kieron Rees from Carers Trust Wales said: “The evidence is clear – Wales has the highest proportion of carers in the UK and they are not receiving the support they need in university. Identifying young adult carers when they apply for university is the first step to making sure that young adult carers get the support they need and deserve.
“Adding a carer ‘tickbox’ is a tiny change, but one that would have a seismic impact on universities’ understanding of those with caring responsibilities. Young adult carers already face so many barriers in their lives, it’s time for UCAS and universities to do their part to break down one of those barriers.”