La Trobe University is leading a major national project to increase access, support and outcomes for carers studying at Australian universities.
The project is led by Lisa Andrewartha, Giovanna Szalkowicz and Associate Professor Andrew Harvey from La Trobe’s Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research (CHEEDR), in partnership with Carers Australia (Victoria).
This research follows a La Trobe pilot study that found carers who are studying at university can face barriers around flexibility of curriculum, travel, finances and stigma on campus. Despite evidence of educational disadvantage, little is known about the strengths and challenges of carers who are also studying.
There are 2.7 million carers in Australia providing unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue, or who are frail aged.
Lead Chief Investigator Lisa Andrewartha said the project aims to increase the visibility of students who are carers and provide a strong evidence base for future policy and research work.
“Outcomes will include recommendations targeted to higher education institutions, governments, and service providers,” Ms Andrewartha said.
The project adopts a mixed method approach, including a national survey of carers who have studied at university.
Carers Australia (Victoria) Senior Policy Advisor Anne Muldowney said: “This project is designed to influence university policy and practice nationally, and has the potential to benefit hundreds of current and prospective student carers”.
The project is funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education’s 2019/20 Research Grants Program.