Prof Mary Larkin, The Open University
Students caring for those who are sick, elderly, or disabled face multiple challenges (National Union of Students, 2013). This project aimed to better understand and support these students. It involved semi-structured telephone interviews with 20 HWSC student carers. The data was analysed using Framework and Thematic analysis. The study highlighted what student carers need from higher education e.g. flexibility, affordability, and routes to improving the care they provide and career enhancement. It showed how carers adopt strategies, including using available support, to render caring as compatible as possible with HE study, thereby foregrounding what ‘works’ in terms of student carer support and ways of enhancing this (e.g. more proactivity). A critical issue that emerged is that these students often choose not to reveal their status as carers. This presentation will demonstrate how this project lays the foundations for extending understanding about supporting the growing number of students who are carers.
Gill Ryan, The Open University in Scotland
In Scotland, young people with care experience (care leavers) are significantly less likely than their peers to go to university, with only 6% of them making the transition from school into higher education (Celcis, 2018). Improving educational outcomes for care experienced people is a key widening access priority for the Scottish Government (CoWA, 2016).
HEIs in Scotland have a legal duty as ‘corporate parents’ to support care-experienced students under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. As a corporate parent, the Open University in Scotland has established a reference group of students to identify their priorities and inform the actions we are taking to ensure care-experienced students can access opportunities, services and support. This work is supported by student data and led by a Corporate Parenting steering group comprising staff and students (OUiS, 2020).
The legislation also requires corporate parents to collaborate, and we have worked with other HEIs to develop on open educational resource for staff development, centred on the care-experienced student voice – Corporate Parenting in Higher Education. The intention is to improve outcomes for care-experienced students across the sector by ensuring a consistent, informed and empathic approach from staff – all of whom have a role in corporate parenting.
The lightning talk and poster will allow us to share our practice and insights gained from these projects with colleagues who may be supporting care-experienced students.
Lesley Grayburn, Senior Careers and Employability Consultant, The Open University
The Achieving Your Goals project wants to better understand the career and study motivations, career readiness and career support needs of the cohort of students it works with, and to look at the impact of interventions tailored to respond to these self-reported needs. The project is based in Edinburgh and has been working with Scotland based students. Following an initial collection of data tailored careers and employability support has been offered with the aim of developing the students’ career readiness, and the longer-term aim of increasing the proportion achieving their career and personal goals.
A key strand of the project has been offering tailored support, such as mentoring, to students with specific characteristics associated with access, participation and success. The project is interested in exploring the potential impact on levels of student confidence and on the retention and progression of the students involved with the goal of scaling up the delivery.
The session will outline: