Media Release: Student carers help colleges get it right

A NEW resource that will help Scottish colleges respond better to the needs of student carers has been launched by College Development Network (CDN).

New resources from (CDN) – Enabling Student Carers – will help colleges to improve support for student carers. It was directly informed by the experiences of student carers themselves.

The resources were launched last week, with a number of student carers discussing their experiences with Public Health Minister, Michael Matheson, and representatives from colleges across Scotland.

Sandy MacLean, advisor at CDN said: “Colleges will be able to use these resources to make small changes that will make a big difference to student carers’ experience of college.

“We worked with a group of student carers and listened to their experiences – what worked for them, what didn’t, what could be better – and we’ve used this to develop a training resource that offers recommendations and tips to the sector.

“It ranges from simple things that should be standard practice, such as asking students at admission stage whether they are a carer, then pointing them towards staff that are familiar with funding issues, to less obvious but important points, such as lecturers being aware that student carers can’t always turn their phones off.”

Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health, said: “Supporting adult carers and young carers in an education setting is vital.

“All carers should have a life alongside caring, including one which greatly enhances career prospects, and the opportunity to pursue their own ambitions and aspirations in life.”

Enabling Student Carers is a training resource that’s based around the video testimonies of six student carers.

A three-hour seminar will use the videos and associated content to train staff in all areas of colleges, whether lecturers, student support, equality or finance officers.

The resource also provides colleges with an action planning tool that can be used to improve the experience of student carers.

Louise Morgan, from the Carers Trust, said: “The real strength of these resources is that they’re raising awareness about the extra pressure that’s on student carers.

“Student carers face all the normal pressures of studying, but go home to another ‘job’, whether it’s providing physical or emotional care.

“Making college staff even more aware of the mental, emotional or physical impact that caring situations have on students is essential to make sure learning is enjoyable and sustainable for them.”

College Development Network received grant funding from the Scottish Government to design, develop and deliver the resources, to encourage colleges to better meet the needs of student carers.

Enabling Student Carers are available for colleges and partner organisations to download at


Media contact: Sarah McDaid, Pagoda PR email: T: 0131 556 0770

About College Development Network

College Development Network (CDN) supports the sector to deliver best practice, share innovations and develop colleges and their staff.

CDN does this by:

• Delivering a range of professional learning activities for all those working in the sector

• Providing advice, guidance and support on curriculum, learning, teaching and assessment

• Supporting governance, leadership and organisational development across the sector

• Facilitating development networks

• Sharing online learning tools and resources to support professional development

• Promoting and supporting excellent practice and open educational resources

• Delivering tailored consultancy services to develop and deliver specific professional learning opportunities based on the requirements of individual regions, colleges and their staff

• Recognising sector achievements through annual awards

• Delivering events to promote professional dialogue with colleagues across the college sector and other professionals who contribute to the wider learning landscape in Scotland and beyond.

About student carers

The National Union of Students’ report, Learning with care: Experiences of student carers in the UK, found that:

• Only 36 per cent of student carers felt able to balance commitments such as work, study, and family/relationships, compared to 53 per cent of students without caring responsibilities.

• More than half of student carers (56 per cent) had seriously considered leaving their course, compared to 39 per cent of students without caring responsibilities.

• Student carers are under-represented in further and higher education. The difference is particularly stark for women aged 16–24; ten per cent of women carers in that age range who care for more than 50 hours per week are in education, compared to 17 per cent of men carers.

• Two thirds of student carers (67 per cent) regularly worry about not having enough money to meet their basic living expenses.

• Three in five (60 per cent) of student carers are combining paid work, caring, and studying. Many student carers would like to work more, but are prevented by their caring responsibilities.

• Student carers who were in receipt of Carer’s Allowance did not feel the benefit was adequate, but the fact that full-time students are not eligible for Carer’s Allowance was considered unfair and contributing to their financial hardship.

• Student carers were three times as likely to have taken on high-risk debt as students without caring responsibilities, even though they were less likely to have taken out low-risk debt.

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