Support for student parents and carers
3 December 2020
Over 3,000 students at UCL are parents or carers. The Union’s Officer for Students with Caring Responsibilities has written about what support there is if you are a student with caring responsibilities.
Hi, I’m Ahsana, the Officer for Students with Caring Responsibilities at the Students’ Union. I’m a mum and a PhD student - I juggle being a research student doing my third year of a PhD in Civil Engineering, while caring for my 3-year-old son.
This year, I’m happy to mention that the Union has initiated the process of setting up a flexible crèche facility to benefit student parents. The progress on this has slowed down a little due to COVID-19, but once things are safe again, we’ll be resuming our work on this and hope to get it going soon.
I’m also working towards a more welcoming and inclusive campus space for student parents and carers including converting some study areas to child-accommodated ‘stay, work and play areas’. We have a strong community of over 3,000 students currently identifying as parents and carers, and we use Facebook and WhatsApp as socialising platforms. We conduct gatherings and events for our community, which have now shifted online. During this period of global pandemic, the university has been supportive to the matters concerning us, and we are given priority in accessing financial support. UCL Student Support and Wellbeing is also keen on extending their services to us throughout, and especially during this period.
If you are a student providing unpaid care for your loved one(s), I am at your disposal if you want to discuss anything. You might be aware that there is an excellent nursery for early years childcare at UCL. However, I should warn that the places are very limited and you might be on a waiting list. Most UCL student parents seek childcare arrangements closer to where they live while attending the university.
If you are an international student moving to the UK for your studies, I am happy to tell you that we have a wonderful childcare system in the country, although expensive! There are channels of financial support open to all students which you can apply for, although there are no exclusive funds for students with caring responsibilities. It is highly recommended to budget for your period of stay here, especially if you are a carer. It is worth exploring your optional scenarios including childcare expenses, transportation costs, and house rent, before choosing where to stay in London! UCL also provides limited family accommodation, which you are welcome to apply for.
I extend a very warm welcome to all new students to our UCL family! All the information for students with caring responsibilities is available on our university and Students’ Union websites. Please remember to join our social media groups to get any personalised advice or suggestions from fellow student parents and carers, and to keep yourself updated about our events and programmes. There are plenty of opportunities to engage at the university through clubs, societies, Project Active sessions and so on. Although studying while caring may in itself seem to demand most of your time, I urge you to check out these opportunities and engage with what suits you the best to make the most of your time at UCL! I am very happy to work with you in the coming year and please do not hesitate to get in touch.
See you soon!
Ahsana Parammal Vatteri, Officer for Students with Caring Responsibilities, Students’ Union UCL