This project is set within the context of funding body requirements across the four nations of the UK, to support students who have caring responsibilities. The Carers Trust defines a carer as a person who provides unpaid care for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support (https://carerstrust.org/what-carer). It builds on and extends a pilot project by the OU in Wales which sought to better understand and support students who are carers. It will inform the first of a two-stage study.
The aim of the two projects are to inform the development of teaching and policy within the OU that addresses disadvantages experienced by this group of students, thereby enhancing their chances of progression. The projects will be part of a cluster of associated Health, Well-being and Social Care (HWSC) scholarship projects about how specific personal challenges affect study study, persistence and retention.
The first project will involve 25 telephone interviews with students within the Well-being, Education and Language Studies (WELS) faculty, with caring responsibilities will be conducted, transcribed and thematically analysed. It is anticipated that follow-up interviews will be conducted in the second study, with the same students one year later, in order to identify changes in their experiences.
The first project is being carried out between January and September 2019 by five members of the OU's Carer research group (a sub-group of the Care and Caring Network). It is expected that the second project will be undertaken in 2020.
Mary Larkin, Senior Lecturer, WELS, firstname.lastname@example.org