Supporting student parents in HE

This research project investigated the role of higher education institution policies in supporting student parents in England. It focused on:

  • What support is made available to student parents in higher education?
  • Which issues face student parents?
  • How relevant and effective are these policies in supporting the needs of diverse groups of student parents?

The study developed ten case studies of English universities, by analysing policy statements and conducting interviews with student parents and staff. In total, 40 student parents and 20 members of staff were interviewed.

Main findings

The study concluded that students with children are not getting the support they need to succeed in higher education. While student parents are a growing presence in higher education, national and university policies continue to address the needs of students as if they had no caring responsibilities.

However, there was also some variation between universities, with some offering some extensive provision for student parents and reviewing their policies on the basis of how this group would be affected.

Recommendations from the study will be disseminated to practitioners and policy-makers so that findings can translate into practices. 

Project details



Dr Marie-Pierre Moreau, University of Bedfordshire

Grant amount and duration


November 2010 - September 2012

Main report


Supporting Student Parents in Higher Education: A Policy Analysis - October 2012

Download executive summary (PDF)

Download full report (PDF)

Other publications


Care in academia: an exploration of student parents’ experiencesBritish Journal of Sociology of Education (published online 23 Jul 2013)

Student parents: what support should universities be providing? - Guardian (13 Dec 2012)

NUS Social Policy Briefing - Supporting Student Parents in HE (26 Oct 2012)

Care, the elephant in the classroom? Article by Marie-Pierre Moreau on the Gender and Education Association website (21 Oct 2012)