STUDENTS WITH PARENTING RESPONSIBILITIES - A good practice briefing for the UCAS Undergraduate application management service (AMS)

STUDENTS WITH PARENTING RESPONSIBILITIES - A good practice briefing for the UCAS Undergraduate application management service (AMS)
A good practice briefing for the UCAS Undergraduate

application management service (AMS)
STUDENTS WITH PARENTING RESPONSIBILITIES - A good practice briefing for the UCAS Undergraduate application management service (AMS)
Who are students with parenting responsibilities?
                                                               ‘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.
                                                                    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
  responsibilities? Y /N
  Select ‘yes’ if you are a parent or responsible for the
  care and wellbeing of a child aged 17 or under.
STUDENTS WITH PARENTING RESPONSIBILITIES - A good practice briefing for the UCAS Undergraduate application management service (AMS)
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.

     NUS (2009) Meet the Parents. Note: Figures relate to students in both
     higher and further education.
STUDENTS WITH PARENTING RESPONSIBILITIES - A good practice briefing for the UCAS Undergraduate application management service (AMS)
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?
STUDENTS WITH PARENTING RESPONSIBILITIES - A good practice briefing for the UCAS Undergraduate application management service (AMS)
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
>    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
>    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
>    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:
© 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 (

You can also read
NEXT SLIDES ... Cancel