STUDENTS WITH PARENTING RESPONSIBILITIES - A good practice briefing for the UCAS Undergraduate application management service (AMS)
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STUDENTS WITH PARENTING RESPONSIBILITIES A good practice briefing for the UCAS Undergraduate application management service (AMS)
Who are students with parenting responsibilities? Background ‘Parental responsibility’ refers to an adult who is responsible In 2018, UCAS introduced a series of new questions for the care and wellbeing of a child aged 17 or under. This into the UCAS Postgraduate AMS, allowing applicants may involve providing a home, looking after their health and to self-declare certain circumstances for which wellbeing, financially supporting them, and ensuring their providers may be able to offer support. These educational and medical needs are met. Different types of questions will be reflected in the UCAS Undergraduate parenting include being a biological, step, adoptive, foster AMS, to be launched in spring 2020, for 2021 or legal parent, a legally-appointed guardian, or providing entry applications. kinship or other parental care to the child of a family member or friend. To support providers with the introduction of the new questions, these good practice briefings outline the Currently, there are no accurate figures for the number of common challenges for these students, give examples students with parenting responsibility in the UK. In 2009, the of the support and good practice already in operation, Student Income and Expenditure Survey approximated this and present some considerations for providers that at 8% of full-time students, and 36% of part-time students in may not have a defined package of support already England, with similar figures reported in Wales and Scotland.1 in place. The majority of student parents are women (87%) and mature (89%), and over a third are lone parents.2 This briefing looks at students who have parenting responsibilities. Retention is a key issue for this group: the NUS found 60% had thought about leaving their course (rising to 65% for lone parents). However, despite the challenges, 75% reported that higher education had been positive for themselves and their families.3 The question and supporting text for AMS To support the identification of students who have parenting responsibilities, UCAS is introducing a question into the application. This is currently live for UCAS Postgraduate applications, and will be available for UCAS Undergraduate 1 Student Income and Expenditure Survey (2009). More recent numbers applications from 2020, for 2021 entry: havenot been reported. 2 NUS (2009) Meet the Parents. Note: Figures relate to students in both higher and further education. Are you a parent or do you have parenting 3 Ibid. responsibilities? Y /N Select ‘yes’ if you are a parent or responsible for the care and wellbeing of a child aged 17 or under.
Three key challenges for students with parenting responsibilities Research by the NUS and others highlights three key areas where additional support may be required: 1. Financial The cost of childcare, especially for part-time students and postgraduates, is a particular barrier: 76% report receiving no childcare funding at all.4 The cost of travel is likely to be higher for these students and, as their availability to undertake paid work is limited, they may find it harder to supplement their income. Accurate advice about eligibility for benefits and other funding is a widespread problem. 2. Academic Because these students often need to organise their studies around childcare (and sometimes paid work), they may be affected by absence, lateness, and missed deadlines. They may have less time to access learning resources on campus, and courses requiring off-site learning or work placements can cause problems with childcare arrangements. As these students are more likely to have been out of education for a while, they may require help to brush up on their study skills. 3. Health and wellbeing Juggling the conflicting priorities of studying and parenting can be stressful, and students report feeling guilty about the impact of their studies on their family, and inadequacy about their capacity to fulfil both roles effectively. One in ten students report feeling isolated from wider student life.5 There may also be an impact on their physical health, especially if they are pregnant. 4 NUS (2009) Meet the Parents. Note: Figures relate to students in both higher and further education. 5 Ibid.
To support transition Considerations ahead of the introduction > Are there any opportunities for flexibility in timetabling of this question for students with parenting responsibilities? Are timetables sent out in good time? Are terms and reading weeks aligned with school holidays, wherever possible? To support pre-applicants > Do you work with, or are you aware of, any local > Is there a central contact with whom students with off-campus facilities which students with parenting parenting responsibilities can discuss any problems or responsibilities might find useful? Consider creating a list support needs before they apply or arrive? Are their to publish online. contact details easily accessible online? > Is the support you offer clearly signposted on your To support ongoing study website (preferably on a dedicated page) and through > Is existing support inclusive of different ages (i.e. student services? not just mature students) and genders, and different > Are students with parenting responsibility mentioned types of parenting? Are students who gain parental in your widening participation strategy and plans (e.g. responsibilities during their studies represented in the Access and Participation Plans in England)? support and information you provide? Is this all reflected in your messaging? To support applicants > Are the three key challenges for students with parenting > What processes are in place to share information about responsibilities (as outlined above) covered, or is further an applicant’s declared circumstances with your student provision needed? services team? What happens next – are all parties > Are support groups or networks for students with involved aware of their responsibilities? parenting responsibilities invited to feed into > Is the information relayed to the student’s academic developments and changes to ensure their needs and tutor? Are academic staff aware of the needs of students concerns are represented? with parenting responsibilities, or would they benefit from further information or training? If you do not currently offer a discrete support package > What opportunities do you offer students to alert you to for students with parenting responsibilities, consider what their support needs later in the admissions process (e.g. support exists for all students which they might find helpful during enrolment), if they choose not to do so on their (e.g. hardship funds, extenuating circumstances policy). UCAS application, or if their circumstances change? Could these elements be signposted together in one place (e.g. a dedicated web page for students with parenting > Do you check for references to an applicant’s parenting responsibilities), or offered as a package? responsibilities in their personal statement or reference – even if they have not ticked the box? > Do you give applicants sufficient notice of interviews or auditions, so they can make any necessary childcare arrangements, and do you allow them to reschedule if they are unable to attend?
Examples of medium-term changes – may require changes Examples of good practice and support for to current plans, policies, or processes students with parenting responsibilities > Help with the cost of childcare, and financial help over the summer holidays. 123 universities and colleges across the UK specifically refer > Early delivery of timetables to allow students to arrange to students with parental or family responsibilities in their childcare in good time. 2019 /20 widening participation plans (e.g. Access and > Dedicated parking spaces /permits for those who with Participation Plans in England). These students are often childcare arrangements. conflated with mature students and /or students with care responsibilities, so the coverage of support may well > Breastfeeding and baby changing facilities accessible to be higher. parents of any gender, and buggy-friendly routes around campus – with maps. Below, we present a selection of good practice from these > Campus access policies that permit supervised children in providers, reflecting the diversity of support on offer. We certain areas, with toy boxes to keep them entertained, hope this will inspire providers that are considering how they ‘kids’ corners’ in libraries, and student-led reading groups. might support students with parenting responsibilities more > Clear policies for supporting students with parenting effectively. This may be through discrete support packages responsibilities or who are pregnant, with checklists and or extensions /adaptions of existing provision, to incorporate step-by-step guidance for staff and students. the needs of students with parenting responsibilities: > Clear, easily accessible absence policies and extenuating Examples of ‘quick wins’ circumstances procedures, and guidance for students > A dedicated web page bringing together all relevant who are pregnant, or on maternity /paternity /partner information, including links to external support. leave. > A designated officer or named point of contact in > Priority access to hardship funds and financial advice, student services, for advice and support. including help with budgeting and benefits. > Parent support group (online and /or face-to-face) Examples of longer-term changes which may require or society, which brings together students with similar planning and substantial changes circumstances to support one another, organise events, and drive improvements. This could be instigated at > On-campus childcare facilities, including after-school any stage of the admissions process, particularly to clubs, school holiday playschemes, clubs and activities support transition. – or information about local off-campus facilities and schemes. > Family activity days, social events aimed at student parents, and discounted tickets for events. > Family accommodation on, or close to, the campus. > Emergency supplies kits (e.g. nappies, baby food) > An on-site health centre which welcomes the families available from student services. of current students. > Information online for students who become pregnant during their studies – including where to access advice and support, risk assessments, extenuating circumstances, and financial assistance. > Free, regular study support skills workshops. > Recorded lectures available online for those unable to attend.
Further information and support for providers The following resources may be useful for providers that are considering how they can support students with parenting responsibilities: > NUS’ 2009 report Meet the Parents. > NUS’ 2016 ‘10 steps from child free to child-friendly’ campus campaign resources, including: 10 steps poster and HE provider self-evaluation tool. > NUS Scotland’s 2016 report The Bairn Necessities: Student parents’ experiences of education at college and university in Scotland, and accompanying workshop notes and presentation slides to support providers with welcoming student parents on campus. > Brightside Trust’s 2015 report Supporting student parents in their transition from Further to Higher Education. > Nuffield Foundation’s 2012 report Supporting Student Parents in Higher Education: A policy analysis. > For more advice on the rights and needs of students during pregnancy and maternity, Advance HE has produced guidance on how these students’ needs can be met. > UCAS has information to support students with parenting responsibilities: www.ucas.com/ undergraduate/applying-university/individual-needs/ students-parenting-responsibilities
© UCAS 2019 All rights reserved. UCAS is a registered trademark. UCAS, a company limited by guarantee, is registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 2839815. Registered charity number: 1024741 (England and Wales) and SC038598 (Scotland). We have made all reasonable efforts to ensure the information in this publication was correct at time of publication. We will not, however, accept any liability for errors, omissions, or changes to information since publication. Wherever possible, any changes will be updated on the UCAS website (www.ucas.com). MD-5220
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