An evaluation of innovative HE courses for student parents

Researchers: Professor Claire Callender, OBE | Professor Sue Jackson ...

Project overview


This study will evaluate two innovative programmes that aim to broaden participation in higher education by providing courses designed for student parents. The programmes are run by Birkbeck and the Open University.

Since 2007-8, Birkbeck has been running part-time courses at eight nursery education centres in areas of low educational participation, mostly in London’s East End. In this time, around 150 student parents ‘ almost exclusively women ‘ have enrolled on these courses. The courses are designed to meet the challenges faced by student parents in accessing and completing higher education courses, with the goal of making higher education possible for those unlikely to access such opportunities through more traditional routes. The Open University offers similar initiatives through its Community Partnership Programme at various children’s centres, whereby parents access distance learning ‘Openings’ courses.

This study will evaluate these innovative courses by exploring their impact on the students’ lives and the lives of their families, especially in relation to their children’s educational trajectories. The research team will evaluate the courses from three perspectives by surveying and interviewing the participants, the staff responsible for delivering the courses and the nursery education centre staff.

This study will help fill the gaps in our knowledge about such courses, both from an institutional perspective ‘ including ‘what works’ to attract and retain this particular student group ‘ as well as from the viewpoint of students. The study will help universities more widely to improve their practices and policies in an evidence-based way, by informing their strategic planning and encouraging more provision for student parents that effectively meets their needs and aspirations.

Team


  • Professor Claire Callender, OBE
    Birkbeck, University of London
  • Professor Sue Jackson
    Birkbeck, University of London
  • Anne Jamieson
    Birkbeck, University of London
  • Elaine Hawkins
    Birkbeck, University of London

  • Programme Head, Education
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Director, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.

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COVID-19 response

Nuffield-funded social scientists are conducting COVID-19 research in real-time, to capture people’s experiences of the social, cultural and economic impacts of the pandemic.