New website and mentoring service to support students with children

07 October 2010

A new website has launched to help students with children prepare for university life. In 2009, the National Union of Students (NUS) conducted the first UK-wide research into the experience of student parents, which highlighted the need for better information and guidance, particularly around student finance. The www.studentparents.org website is a practical response to this, developed by a consortium of organisations, led by education charity BrightsideUNIAID and funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

The NUS Meet the Parents report revealed a gap in targeted, clear information and guidance for student parents. Alongside practical challenges of limited time, money and childcare, they lacked the information and support they needed to prepare for, and cope with, the transition to higher education.

Studentparents.org provides a range of online information and tools including:

The website is part of a wider programme piloting the use of ementoring to support student parents with the transition from further to higher education. Students at college who are thinking of going to university are mentored by student parents already studying at a local university. Mentoring pairs communicate online at a time and place which suits them, so mentees receive personalised support from someone who has been in their shoes, while mentors get a flexible way to volunteer, and access to a support network of other student parents. The programme is piloted in partnership with five Further Education Colleges and five Higher Education Institutions in England and supported by the Nuffield Foundation.

Dr Tessa Stone, CEO of BrightsideUNIAID said:

"The importance of parental education for their children’s educational outcomes is well known, yet for student parents the route to university can be particularly tough. Studentparents.org targets this neglected group with the information and support they need in a format that works for them. This programme will help many more student parents make the successful transition to university, so improving their own prospects and, ultimately, their children’s prospects too."’

Lynne Condell, Chair of NASMA said: 

"We were delighted to offer our expertise to this important project. Student parents face complex financial decisions. There is an array of support available but the information is complicated and often hard to find. This website helps equip students with better information about what they could apply for and signposts them to other sources of help, such as trained money advisers. I encourage students to use it and institutions to link to it."

Josh Hillman, Education Director at the Nuffield Foundation said:

"Enabling parents to access and successfully complete further and higher education courses is a priority for the Nuffield Foundation. We are delighted to support studentparents.org, which targets the specific needs of those students who are also parents."

Ben Whittaker Vice President Welfare and Olivia Bailey, National Women's Officer, NUS said: 

"NUS is thrilled to be involved with this project. Our extensive research involving thousands of student parents showed that poor information provision - on everything from financial support to coping with assignments when your children are off school - is a key barrier for this group. This project offers parents the opportunity to explore the options available to them, as well as learn from the experiences of their peers. We hope the ementoring service will be able to expand in the future to ensure that all student parents can benefit from this fantastic resource."

For more information on Studentparents.org and the ementoring programme contact Jemma.samuels@brightsideuniaid.org.

For more information about the Nuffield Foundation's work with student parents, visit the website.

student parents

Editors' notes

The site is publically accessible from www.studentparents.org. It was developed by BrightsideUNIAID, in association with NUS, The National Association of Student Money Advisers (NASMA), AMOSSHE, the UK Student Services Association and in consultation with student parents.

BrightsideUNIAID is a national education charity aiming to inspire, guide and support individuals by providing ementoring, online tools and teaching resources. www.brightsideuniaid.org