Caring and studying
An increasing number of students are also carers, whether undergraduates who have been young carers and continue to support their parents when they go to university for the first time, or postgraduates and mature students who have caring responsibilities. Some students also become carers during their time at university, for example if they are supporting a housemate or a new partner.
There is an increased recognition of this in universities. Both Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam University currently offer good and specialist support to students who also have caring responsibilities. Both have designated student carer advisors within the Student Support Services teams. Further information on the support available, and advice for student carers, is available on the university websites:
University of Sheffield: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/student/carers, and the Union website: http://su.sheffield.ac.uk/advice-support/student-carers.
Sheffield Hallam University: Student Carers at Sheffield Hallam University Blog.
All universities offer the same key advice that, regardless of whether the course you are doing is part time or full time, it is best to let them know about the additional pressures you are under. If personal tutors and student services are aware of this before hand, it can reduce the amount of explaining you might need to do when struggling to hand in a piece of work on time, or distractions whilst you are preparing for exams. They may also be able to make you aware of further support.
You may be considering a course at university but don’t know whether it is possible alongside your caring role. If this is the case, please contact our Carer Advice line on 0114 272 8362, and we can talk further with you about how going to university might impact on your caring role, and whether there is any extra support which might make the transition easier. You could also contact Sheffield Hallam University Student Services team on 0114 225 5555 – they can offer advice for anyone interested in university, whether or not they intend to apply to Sheffield Hallam. They can discuss the time requirements needed for the sort of course you are interested in, and the financial obligations of studying. They would also be able to talk through what might happen if you were unable to complete coursework because of your caring responsibility. This support is offered to undergraduates and postgraduates; younger adults and mature students.
If you are still at school or college in Sheffield and interested in applying to Sheffield Hallam, you may be entitled to support through their Compact Scheme, which encourages people to apply to university who may feel it is difficult due to their caring responsibilities, or other challenges. For more information on this, please visit http://www.shu.ac.uk/services/sls/support/careleavers/compact.html
If you are considering a university outside of Sheffield, it may be worth contacting the Student Services team there to find out what support they offer to carers. If they don’t offer a huge amount for carers, please don’t be put off. They may advise that you think about deferring your place, or considering distance learning. Those options may be right for you, but if they aren’t, please do call the Carers Support and Information Line, or consider speaking to other universities as one university could be very different in their approach than another, and most universities want to encourage you to study.
Further information can I also be found on the NUS website: http://www.nus.org.uk/en/advice/caring-and-studying.
Updated 6 October 2017