Navigating Parenthood and Academia: Understanding the FHNW Student Parent Experience
The number of pregnant and parenting students is rising, yet they remain on the periphery of higher education policy discussions. Caring responsibilities are overlooked in the typical university student narrative, yet over 73% of students today are non-traditional.
Malin Würmli & Kim Eggimann, 2023
Art der Arbeit Bachelor Thesis
Betreuende Dozierende Jeive, Michael
Keywords care, student parents, inclusion, diversity, carework
Higher education, while a ‘safe space’ for some, transforms into a complex landscape filled with considerable challenges for many parents. This thesis aims to make the FHNW student parents experience more salient: (1) by exploring their experiences and challenges, providing a foundational understanding; (2) by investigating their support needs; and (3) by proposing potential support mechanisms that the FHNW could implement to accommodate student parents more appropriately, addressing both their needs and the deficiencies in current support structures.
The research employs a multi-methodological approach encompassing a questionnaire, focus groups, expert interviews, and an extensive literature review to glean profound insights into student parents’ experiences, challenges, and needs at the FHNW and formulate recommendations. Findings reveal a considerable lack of awareness among student parents regarding available support services; establishing a dedicated advice centre and reorganising communication is proposed to bridge this awareness gap.
Gendered caregiving responsibilities contribute to female student parents perceiving the challenge of reconciling family life and academic pursuits as more formidable, emphasising the need for targeted support. General practical recommendations include the creation of easily accessible parent-child and lactation rooms across FHNW locations, enhanced e-learning options, simplified revision of missed teaching material, and support in organising childcare. Advocating for a comprehensive restructuring and expansion of services, the thesis emphasises the pivotal role of communication. Central to this proposition is establishing a family support officer, serving as a significant figure for information and support and providing a tangible identity for the student parents community. The recommended implementation strategy unfolds in two phases: an initial operational focus for insight refinement, followed by a comprehensive communication concept formulation. The thesis positions its outcomes as a catalyst for policy and practice reassessment at the FHNW, paving the way for a more inclusive and supportive academic environment acknowledging the needs of its student parents.
Studiengang: Business Administration International Management (Bachelor)