Revealed: the emotional and financial suffering of student carers

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Student carers are four more times likely to drop out of higher education than other students

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24th March 2017 by Paul Cardwell 1 Comment

Student carers are four more times likely to drop out of higher education than other students because of a lack of support, new research has found.

Research by the Carers Trust Scotland has uncovered a world of emotional and financial struggle for many students who are unpaid carers for a sick or disabled family member or friend while studying.

The organisation is calling on more support to be offered by government and education establishments to ensure student carers have a fairer chance to succeed in their education.

At an event organised by the charity taking place today (Friday) student carers will provide an insight for MSPs and college and university staff about the struggles they face as well as the difference targeted student carer support can make.

Ailsa Tweedie (26) from Newmains, North Lanarkshire, who cares for her mum, told TFN at times she had been left really struggling and feeling isolated.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Carers Trust Scotland is also using today’s event to launch a new award scheme for higher education institutions.

Going Higher for Student Carers: Recognition Award has been created to assist and encourage colleges and universities to develop their policies and practices to improve support for student carers and award good practice.

Paul Traynor, young adult carer policy and campaigns officer for Carers Trust Scotland, said establishments have to first have mechanisms to identify student carers then have processes in place to support them and ensure they maintain good health, before completing their course achieving the best grades possible.

“Carers who have the opportunity to pursue higher education should not be negatively impacted because of their caring responsibilities,” he said.

“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.”

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5th April 2017 by Lorraine Allan

Would like to talk to someone at TFN about my experience as a mature student alongside my caring responsibilities...Great to see this issue being highlighted here!