Who cares?

  • Woman contemplating balancing work and life

Within higher education research there is increasing interest in the links between student identity, experience and wellbeing, particularly in relation to minority student groups. One such group is students with caring responsibilities who are sometimes described as a “hidden” minority, a group whose experiences and needs are not well understood

Who cares? Identifying, understanding and supporting the work-life balance of students with caring responsibilities

Existing research with student carers and parents indicates that this group are more likely to experience conflicts of identity and stresses resulting from the tension between their educational and caring commitments. Yet there are considerable gaps in our knowledge about the study-work-life balance for students who care for children and/or for adults and the intersecting nature of the challenges they face, such as being more likely to be a mature student or first in family to attend university, merit greater attention.

Sponsored by the student mental health network SMaRteN this study is driven by student-researcher co-production supported by a student-led steering group. A cross-disciplinary, mixed-methods project, Who Cares? aims to:

  • Enable students with caring responsibilities to be involved in developing the evidence base about wellbeing and student experience
  • Improve understanding of the university journey and the challenges of achieving a study-work-life balance
  • Identify practical ways for universities to improve their support for student carers and parents.

Project Team


Dr Rachel Spacey, LALT    Rebecca Sanderson, EGI   Amy Zile, UEA

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