An Exploration of The Lived Experience of Informal Student Carers During Covid-19

Daisy Blaksley


Informal Student Carers (ISC) are students who provide unpaid care to a friend or family member needing support. We explored the lived experiences of ISC and the challenges they faced throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. A scoping review, questionnaire-based survey and volunteer interviews were undertaken to identify the themes which predicate student carer’s experience during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our research showed that a combination of financial concerns, time constraints, and the lack of visibility of student caregivers all contributed to this student group's poor mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic. Educational institutions have an obligation to be informed and support the unique and varied needs of ISCs.


Student carer; unpaid care; informal student carer; university; university students; educational institutions; higher education; covid-19 pandemic; covid; pandemic;

Full Text:



Alexander, R., Ravi, A., Barclay, H., Sawhney, I., Chester, V., Malcolm, V., ... Langdon, P. E. (2020). Guidance for the treatment and management of COVID-19 among people with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities. 17, pp. 256–269

Braun, V., Clarke, V., Hayfield, N., & Terry, G. (in press). Thematic Analysis. In P. Liamputtong (Ed.), Handbook of Research Methods in Health Social Sciences (1-18). Singapore: Springer.

Carers Trust, 2015. Supporting Students with Caring Responsibilities: Ideas and Practice for Universities to Help Student Carers Access and Succeed in Higher Education England version. URL: education-england-version.pdf

Carers Trust, 2020a. Engaging with young carers and young adult carers during the covid-19 pandemic in Scotland. URL: scotland/engaging-with-young-carers-and-young-adult-carers-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-in-scotland.pdf

Carers Trust 2020b. 2020 VISION: HEAR ME, SEE ME, SUPPORT ME AND DON’T FORGET ME. The impact of Coronavirus on young and young adult carers in Scotland, and what they want you to do next. July 2020. URL:

Carers Trust, 2020c. MY FUTURE, MY FEELINGS, MY FAMILY How Coronavirus is affecting young carers and young adult carers, and what they want you to do next. URL: section/my-future-my-feelings-my-family.pdf

Carers Trust Wales, 2020. Going Higher: A Carer’s Guide to Universities in Wales. URL: in-wales.pdf

Carers UK. 2017. CarerPassport: Colleges & Universities. London: Carers UK.

Carers UK. 2022. Heading for crisis: Caught between caring and rising costs. Available online at:

GOV.UK. 2021. Carers Allowance. Available online at:

Gov.Uk. 2022 The Cost of Living Crisis in Scotland: analytical report. Available online at:


Department of Education, 2020. Department for Education’s Covid Guidance for Higher Education

Kettell, L., 2018. Young adult carers in higher education: the motivations, barriers and challenges involved–a UK study. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 44(1), pp.100-112.

Office for National Statistics. 2011. “Census [Online].” census/detailedcharacteristics-for-local-authorities-in-england-and-wales/index.html

NUS, 2013, Learning with Care, Experiences of Student Carers in the UK (NUS).

Sempik, J. and Becker, S., 2014. Young adult carers at college and university. London: Carers Trust

King, T.L., 2021. Young carers in the COVID-19 pandemic: risks for mental health. The Lancet Regional Health–Western Pacific, 16.

Open University, 2021 Distance Learning. Available online at: learning

Onwumere, J., Creswell, C., Livingston, G., Shiers, D., Tchanturia, K., Charman, T., Russell, A., Treasure, J., Di Forti,

M., Wildman, E. and Minnis, H., 2021. COVID-19 and UK family carers: policy implications. The Lancet Psychiatry, 8(10), pp.929-936.

Smith L, Onwumere J, Craig T, McManus S, Bebbington P, Kuipers E. Mental and physical illness in caregivers: results from an English national survey sample. Br J Psychiatry. 2014 Sep;205(3):197-203. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.112.125369. Epub 2014 Jul 24. PMID: 25061119.

UCAS, 2021. Students With Caring Responsibilities. Available at:

UCL, 2021 Section 5: Reasonable adjustment. Available at: manual/chapters/chapter-4-assessment-framework-taught-programmes/section-5-reasonable adjustments#5.12

Willner, P., Rose, J., Stenfert Kroese, B., Murphy, G.H., Langdon, P.E., Clifford, C., Hutchings, H., Watkins, A., Hiles, S. and Cooper, V., 2020. Effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of carers of people with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 33(6), pp.1523-1533.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

New Directions in the Teaching of Natural Sciences

eISSN: 2753-4138

University Home