Young carers can currently make universities aware directly or through the personal statement or reference, if they choose to. UCAS' improvement of the service means that carers applying from 2018 will have a specific option built-in to UCAS Apply.
Since 2014 Carers Trust have been asking for a tick box which would prompt young adult carers to identify themselves and get the right support.
Student carer Carol Hayward, 21, started a campaign in February calling for this change to the UCAS form so that universities could easily find out whether applicants would be studying as well as caring, unpaid, for someone with an illness, disability, mental health problem or an addiction.
"I know from first-hand experience how difficult it is being a student but also a carer. I am really thrilled today to have learnt that UCAS will be improving their form for carers at the earliest possible date."
Carers Trust - the UK's largest charity for unpaid carers – backed the campaign and in just six weeks more than 2,500 signatures have poured in to show their support.
Carers Trust research has recently highlighted the facts about student carers in the UK, which include that:
- Half of young adult carers in college or university are struggling because of their caring role.
- Young adult carers are four times more likely to have dropped out of college or universities than students without caring roles.
- 14% of young carers in school said they would not go to college or university because of their caring role.
- 24% of young adult carers in school said they could not afford to go to college or university, while 41% are unsure.
Carers Trust CEO, Gail Scott-Spicer, says of today's success:
"It is unacceptable that right now half of young adult carers report that they are struggling with their studies because of their caring role. Without the right information and support they are also four times more likely to drop out of university.
"All educational establishments should take steps to identify and support students who are also in a caring role at home as we know this can greatly impact on concentration and attendance.
"This campaign has been for a small change, but one that will make a huge difference to the lives of student carers across the UK, as long as universities across the country now commit to using the information they will be given in order to provide the support that student carers need and deserve."
Ben Jordan, a senior policy executive at UCAS explained:
"We're working to allow applicants to disclose whether they are a carer or have care responsibilities as part of UCAS Apply. Our ambition is that this option is built into our new Apply form, which is being significantly redeveloped for re-launch in September 2018.
"Each year, 700,000 people are placed in higher education via UCAS. These students come from a diverse range of backgrounds and circumstances, some of which can be challenging, particularly if you are a carer."
Further information about the support on offer to young carers can be found here: https://www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/getting-started/individual-needs...