Call For Universities To Support Student Carers Going Higher

The UK’s largest carers’ charity Carers Trust is today launching Going Higher – a new campaign calling on universities in England to provide more support to students who are unpaid young adult carers.

There are at least 375,000 young adult carers aged 14-25 in the UK. Young adult carers are young people aged 14–25 who care, unpaid, for a family member or friend with an illness or disability, mental health condition or an addiction. But there are no records of how many of these are student carers in post-16 education – they are a hidden group.

Research published by Carers Trust* has shown:

  • half the days spent at college or university were affected because of caring. This could be coming in late, leaving early or absence for the whole day
  • young adult carers are four times more likely to drop out of college or university than their peers
  • 42% were in paid employment as well as spending time on their education and caring.

With Going Higher, Carers Trust is asking universities to:

  • identify the number of young adult carers attending their university or college
  • support all young adult carers throughout their education to ensure they maintain good mental health, complete their course and achieve the best grades possible
  • report on the progress of young adult carers via access agreements. The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) which regulates fair access to higher education in England, has recognised Carers Trust’s research and recommends that universities consider how access agreements can support student carers.

Moira Fraser, Director of Policy at Carers Trust, says “It is very much in universities’ interests to identify and support young adult carers who are their students.

“The Statutory Guidance for the new Care Act in England says that if a young adult carer wants to go to university, the local authority should help them. It also says that the council should make sure the university knows about what the young adult carer wants to achieve in the future.

“Universities will be asked by local authorities what they are doing for their student carers, and our new Going Higher campaign will mean they are in a better position to provide that support.”