Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

Project investigates issues faced by young carers

Published: 10 January 2024 at 11:15

Cambridge campus

ARU secures over £300k funding to look into students with caring responsibilities

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) has secured funding to investigate the growing trend of young adults with caring responsibilities, with a view to better understanding how this additional role is affecting their education and wellbeing.

Due to demographic changes, young people formally engaged in education, such as university students or apprentices, are providing an increasing amount of care for older adults. Young carers can experience problems with finance, work-life balance, and health and wellbeing, but their lives are under-researched.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that around one in 10 people aged 16-30 provide informal care in the UK, while previous research has indicated that young people with caring responsibilities are significantly less likely to get a degree-level qualification compared to their peers. 

The new research project is called “Intergenerational care relations: Challenges and potentials for reconciliation of education and care in ageing knowledge societies”, or InterCare for short. 

InterCare, which begins this year, will be led by the Universität Frankfurt am Main, alongside Hochschule Niederrhein, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and ARU. 

It will involve quantitative and qualitative research carried out in the UK, Germany and Poland, including interviews and national surveys, and ARU will receive just over £300,000 (360,000 Euros) in funding from German non-profit organisation VolkswagenStiftung.

By studying both the positive outcomes, for example building new competencies such as compassion and resilience, and the negative outcomes, such as physical and mental health issues, time constraints, and financial problems, it aims to develop practical support measures to improve the lives of both the young people providing care and the older adults who receive it.

Professor of Education Marie-Pierre Moreau, who is the project lead at ARU and one of the InterCare co-investigators, said:

“This a huge societal issue but it’s an area that has long been ignored. As our population ages, more and more students will find themselves balancing their studies with caring responsibilities. 

“The InterCare project will address this by looking at three countries with different approaches to social welfare and Higher Education: Germany, Poland and the UK. The research will involve national surveys, which is crucial to helping us tackle some of these research gaps.

“InterCare aims to raise awareness of the situation, highlighting the challenges and benefits of intergenerational care arrangements. Many young people are not receiving the support they need and deserve, and we hope the results from this research will help to improve the lives of young people and older care recipients both here in the UK and across Europe.”