Regulating the student body/ies: university policies and student parents

Moreau, M. P. (2016). "Regulating the student body/ies: university policies and student parents." British Educational Research Journal 42(5): 906-925.

Despite a cultural positioning of care at the margins of academia, student parents now represent a significant proportion of the higher education population in England and in other Western countries. Research shows that, beyond the diversity of their experiences, time, childcare, financial, and well-being related issues prevail among them. However, extant research concentrates mostly on the experiential level - often alluding to policies, yet rarely focusing on their role in compounding or easing the issues experienced by this group. Using the lens of sociological and feminist theories and drawing on data collected in ten English higher education institutions, this paper addresses this dearth of research. It does argue that, through policies that overall tend to be geared towards childfree students, universities contribute to the marginalisation of student parents within higher education. However, despite the prevalence of such policies, attempts to redefine the student body/ies in more inclusive ways are also identified, suggesting a partial transformation of academic cultures. Through its identification and discussion of various institutional policy approaches to student parents, this paper attempts to further the development of a sociology linking areas of society and of people's lives (in this case, care and academia) which have historically been constructed as separate, and to understand how institutional policies reproduce or challenge this binary.

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