Case study

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Access to Education for Carers

Project aims to raise aspirations for carers to study at higher education level

The Open University in Wales’ Access to Education for Carers project ran from 2010 – 2013 and was funded by The Waterloo Foundation. The project aimed to engage carers of all ages with learning opportunities, specifically aiming to raise the aspirations and opportunities for carers to study at higher education level.

The project won the 2012 Universities Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL) award, an award that recognises projects, programmes and practices that promote lifelong learning in the university sector.

Throughout the project the team engaged directly with over 125 carers across Wales, and over 60 of these have gone on to formal accredited OU study. In order to ensure that the lessons and good practice developed from the project were shared an evaluation report Extending Opportunities for Carers was published in 2013.  The report offers valuable insights into supporting carers to access and succeed in higher and further education, and demonstrates that flexible learning opportunities – such as provided by the OU – are essential for carers whose lives are busy, unpredictable and often stressful.

The report also highlights the importance of targeting information materials and support specifically for carers as well as demonstrating the essential role of carers’ organisations and trusted intermediary bodies in helping carers to access educational opportunities.

The report identifies the issues and barriers faced by carers considering or undertaking study and also makes recommendations for higher education institutions and the education sector in general for supporting carers in learning.  This ensures that the experiences and findings from the project can be used to influence policy and inform practice further extending the legacy of this work.

“I’m a wife, mum and a carer, I’m a student now too and this is my thing. I’m learning for me too” Kim Crocombe, Wrexham