The Carers Trust defines young adult carers as ‘young people aged 14-25 who care, unpaid, for a friend or family member who could not cope without their support’.

There is no national data on the number of carers in higher education as not all disclose their caring responsibilities and their carer status can change.

Barriers to higher education

The Carers Trust toolkit for providers highlights the barriers to accessing and succeeding in higher education faced by young adult carers.

It notes that young adult carers:

  • are often a hidden population and so can be harder to reach and encourage into higher education
  • may feel less able to access higher education due to their caring responsibilities at home and require more support when they do engage.


A 2014 report by the Carers Trust found that most young adult carers in their sample struggled to balance studying and caring responsibilities and that support from providers was not always accessible.

They recommended that providers should develop policies, procedures and training to identify and support young carers throughout their studies.

An NUS survey found that carers felt their responsibilities had a negative effect on their academic performance and that many considered leaving their course.

The report noted that caring responsibilities can affect overall wellbeing as well as physical and mental health.

It highlighted the impact financial concerns may have on carers and encouraged providers to ensure that support and information on hardship funding was accessible.

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