The final report of the Nuffield Foundation's research into student parents has identified a number of key issues in the support available to student parents.
In the final report of the research, conducted by Dr. Marie-Pierre Moreau at the University of Bedfordshire, it was claimed that the institutional culture at some universities leads to discrimination and neglect of student parents. Student parents are feeling the brunt of stereotypical views of students held by institutions, such as treating all students as having the same needs, or stereotyping student parents as 'problem students'.
There was also some concern in the report that neoliberal discourses are becomming more prevalent in higher education and this is causing institutions to buy into the idea that being a parent is a 'lifestyle choice' and therefore the responsibility of the individual student and not the institution.
The report recommends a shift in the culture of universities towards a child-friendly approach which takes into account the specific challenges and needs of student parents. It suggests that to do this, universities must 'be less restrictive about the presence of children on campus' and provide facilities for baby changing and breastfeeding.
The report also highlights the need for HE institutions to start collecting data on the family circumstances and provide accurate, accessible information for student parents. There are recommendations about timetabling and attendance to suit student parent needs and also support for increases in financial provision and family accomodation.
NUS welcome this research, which provides solid support for our current campaigning on child-friendly campuses.
You can download the full report or the executive summary from here.