Care in academia: an exploration of student parents' experiences

Moreau, M. P. and C. Kerner (2015). "Care in academia: an exploration of student parents' experiences." British Journal of Sociology of Education 36(2): 215-233.

While student parents now represent a significant proportion of the higher education population in England, this group has been given limited consideration in policy circles. Using a social constructivist and feminist theoretical framework, this paper draws on a research project investigating the role of higher education policies in supporting student parents in England. It focuses on findings from 40 interviews conducted with student parents enrolled on university programmes. It shows that, in the context of the default construction of the university student as carefree, student parents often describe their experience of navigating academia as a struggle, in which time-related, financial, health and emotional problems prevail. However, the stories they tell also emphasise the benefits associated with their dual status. By doing so, they resist the discourse of deficit typically applied to 'non traditional' students and produce a counter-discourse that disturbs the long-lived binary opposition between care and academia.

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