Issue 1: Collecting data on carers
There is a dearth of data regarding carers in academia.
At national level: Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) should consider collecting national statistics on academic carers. University and College Union (UCU) should conduct a national study of this group equivalent to the one conducted by the National Union of Students (NUS) about student carers.
Research funders should encourage the development of research about carers, particularly of research about those with caring responsibilities other than parenting.
At institutional level: Universities which do not already do so should establish a data collection system enabling them to collect reliable, comprehensive and regularly updated information on academic and other staff’s caring status.
Issue 2: Making information accessible
There is a lack of awareness among staff regarding information about carers and about the relevant policies.
At national level: A website including key information for policymakers and individual carers based in higher education should be developed and hosted by a key stakeholder.
At institutional level: Universities should dedicate a specific webpage to carers and inform all staff about it, particularly carers and those in a line management role.
Issue 3: Creating a carer-friendly culture through the development of policies targeting carers specifically and through the mainstreaming of care in generic institutional policies
- There are few policies and limited provision in place targeting carers specifically.
- Generic institutional policies and practices can have a negative impact on staff carers and this impact is often left unaddressed.
At national level: The establishment of a carers’ network should be considered by a national higher education stakeholder, to be hosted on a national website (see above).
At institutional level: Institutions should be encouraged to develop a comprehensive care strategy, coordinated by a member of staff, with objectives and action points. Universities should review the specific provision in place on a regular basis and consult with staff to assess whether it meets their needs. This may include conducting their own survey of carers. Institutions should provide flexible policies for carers to acknowledge the diversity of their needs, including facilitating switching between full-time and part-time and taking paid and unpaid leave. Specific attention should be given to those caring for elderly or ill friends or relatives. Academic events should consider the needs of carers, for example avoiding running seminars in the evening or providing bursaries for carers attending these events.
Read the press coverage:
The Guadian: How can universities create a carer-friendly culture? (Thursday 15 June 2017)
Times Higher Education: Career advice: how to support academic carers (Thursday 6 July 2017)