Many students already have caring responsibilities when they come to university. This can include any student who has a commitment to providing unpaid care to a family member or friend who could not cope without their support. This may be due to illness, disability, a mental health issue, or substance misuse. We are not including parents here - we have separate web pages for students with children.
A caring responsibility may be short term - such as supporting someone with their recovery following an accident, or long term - such as helping someone with a long term illness or disability. You might become a student with caring responsibilities during the time you are at university or you may have been doing this for a long time.
If you are aged 16-25 and have a caring responsibility, you are a ‘young adult carer’. There are approximately 375,000 young adult carers in the UK, all facing different challenges and responsibilities. If you provide regular care and support to a family member, partner, or friend, you may be eligible to access additional support while studying.
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is illegal to discriminate against a carer because of their responsibilities as a carer, or because of the individual(s) they care for. If you're looking after someone who is elderly or disabled, the law will protect you against direct discrimination or harassment because of your caring responsibilities. This is because you're counted as being 'associated' with someone who is protected by the law because of their age or disability. There is more information on the People First website.
If you're balancing your studies with the responsibility of caring for another person, this can sometimes be challenging. Some students with caring responsibilities might think it's not worth telling the university about their circumstances, perhaps because they think it's a temporary situation, or because they don’t think it ‘counts’.
However, all carers deal with their responsibilities alongside their education differently, and you may still find some occasional support helpful, especially if your circumstances change.
It’s important to make sure you know where to get support if or when you need it. Knowing that you have caring responsibilities allows staff to put support in place, to make sure you get the most from your university experience. We recommend you let us know about this as early as possible, however small or major your caring role may seem to you.
There is support at Queen Mary for students with caring responsibilities. This can include:
The Carers Trust offers support to those who give unpaid care to a family member or friend – find out more at carers.org.
If someone in your family has a life-threatening illness, Hope Support Services can help. Visit their website for more information or watch their video. You might also be interested in watching Ben’s story.
To help you know what you are entitled to, you can read the latest Looking after someone guide from Carers UK, which gives carers the full picture of the practical and financial support available to them.
Students who are carers may benefit from respite support, and there is a Carers Centre in Tower Hamlets. Their services are explained on their website. They have a specific project for young carers (up to age 25) who are caring for someone in Tower Hamlets, even if you don't live in the borough.
If you are caring for someone outside Tower Hamlets, you can contact your Local Authority or the Carers Trust to find out about available support. Both should also be able to help make sure you are getting all the help you are entitled to and how to evidence your caring role.
Carers Allowance You cannot claim Carers Allowance you are in full time education. Part time postgraduate students can apply for Carer’s Allowance if: