How to succeed as a student with children
Settle into campus life and your university studies with your family beside you
Going to university is an enriching experience for you and your family – and having your children with you while you work towards your degree can make your uni years even more special.
As a student-parent, you'll have a few extra things to consider, compared to many of your classmates. At your uni, you should find the support and facilities you need to succeed in your studies, while fulfilling your family responsibilities.
Preparing for uni with a family
Before coming to uni, there are a few things you should look into – such as where you plan to live, who will look after your children while you're in class and how you'll fund your studies.
University halls can be a busy place to live. Some universities offer family halls but you might find private accommodation offers you more comfort and space than living on campus – particularly if you have a baby or small child to care for.
When looking for accommodation for your family, consider:
- Your 'must-haves': is it important to have a garden space where your children can play, a home close to the park or a parking space?
- Your location: would you prefer to live close to campus or would you be happy living further away from the busy centre of the university?
- Your budget: with children, your budget needs to stretch a bit further, so do some research to find out which areas in the city best suit your budget
Our house hunting guide is a great place to start when looking for the perfect new home for your family. Also take a look at our guide to moving into private accommodation during coronavirus for advice on how to keep your home clean for your family.
Our normal operating hours are 8.30am to 5.30pm.
Get financial support
As a student with dependent children, make sure you know what extra funding is available to you.
You can apply for the Parents Learning Allowance and the Childcare Grant at the same time you apply for your tuition fee and maintenance loans through Student Finance England.
You don't have to pay either grant back, so it won't affect your income once you graduate. The Childcare Grant will go directly to your childcare provider and if you're eligible for the Parents Learning Allowance it will be paid into your bank account in 3 instalments during the academic year.
Coming to uni with a family
Once you've registered on your new course, it's time to get settled into life at university with your family.
Build your support network
Your support network is a group of people from across the university – including friends, lecturers and support staff – who you can turn to when you need help. They might include:
When you start uni you'll get a personal tutor who's there to guide you when you need advice. They'll be an academic member of staff but they'll also be well-connected to services across the university, so they should be the first person you talk to if you're having difficulties.
If you mentioned your family in your personal statement, they might already know you're coming to uni with children and can support you with this in mind. You can go to them with anything you need – including academic issues, financial struggles, health-related worries or worries about studying as a parent.
If your personal tutor can't help you directly, they'll direct you to other university services whenever you need them.
Guidance and support services
All universities have guidance and support services including counsellors, careers advisers, disability advisers, and immigration, housing, money and welfare specialists.
If you find you're struggling to focus on your studies and care for your family there are learning and academic support services who can give you the skills to manage your workload. Health and wellbeing support services and the university chaplaincy can support you if you're feeling overwhelmed. And your student finance centre are available to help you make the most of your family budget.
All our guidance and support services can offer face-to-face support if needed, and support over the phone or online.
Get to know your lecturers at the start of your course and let them know you're studying while raising a family. Knowing that your lecturers understand your responsibilities will take a huge weight off you if you need to miss class or leave early to support your children.
You'll also have a virtual learning environment where you can catch up on recorded classes you might miss. Ask your lecturers where to find the virtual learning environment for their course and discuss suitable arrangements for catching up on your studies if you need to. Remember, they want you to succeed.
Getting around campus with a family
Getting around campus takes a little bit of extra consideration when you have a family, especially if you need to keep a car close-by for school runs.
Most universities are in cities with great public transport links and many universities run their own free bus service for students. Talk to your uni to find out if your children can also ride for free.
If you're planning to travel with your family on public transport, see our guide to getting around campus safely. If you need to use a pram to get around campus with your family, explore our accessibility profile to find out where lifts and ramps are available in all our buildings.
Driving and parking
At Portsmouth, we encourage all students to be sustainable and use public transport or cycle where possible. But we understand this might not always be possible if you have a family, especially if you need easy access to schools or campus from home.
If you need to keep a car on campus, contact the university estates service to find out about available parking spaces. You'll likely have to buy a parking permit, so factor this into your uni budget.
Enjoy your university city as a family
Make the most out of the experience by exploring your new home together. Wherever you choose to study, there'll be times when you're not studying and when the kids aren't at school – so take the time to discover places where you can all have fun outside in your city.
If you're coming to Portsmouth you'll find so many natural spaces to enjoy as a family. Take an afternoon off to spend on the beach, have a BBQ on Southsea common or enjoy the rides and amusement arcades on South Parade and Clarence piers. And no matter where you choose to live on our island, you'll be sure to find a park close by, whether it's one of our smaller parks tucked away behind residential streets or a big park with plenty of room to play like Canoe Lake or Milton Common.
If you need a family activity on a rainy day, Portsmouth is full of fun art galleries and museums with plenty of activities for kids. Independent artists also run workshops across the city where your children can paint their own ceramics, make paper crafts, learn to crochet or go on a photo walk with their friends.
Explore our life outside study section to find out about all of this and more for you and your family to enjoy in Portsmouth.
Bringing your family to live in the UK
If you're planning on moving to university from a country outside the UK, you'll need to apply for visas for your children or spouse to join you.
You can bring your family to University in the UK if:
- You're government-sponsored and your course is full-time and longer than 6 months OR
- You are doing a postgraduate level full-time course of 9 months or longer
You'll want to get your family's visa process started as soon as possible before you come to the UK and also find places for your children in local schools and nurseries. The sooner you prepare, the easier the transition will be.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has a full guide to bringing your family to the UK and our International Team have further visa information.
Bringing your family to the UK during coronavirus
Depending on where you're travelling from, all members of your family entering the UK and yourself may have to self-isolate according to the government's guide to entering the UK. Regardless of where you travel from, you'll also need to provide your journey and contact details by completing the passenger locator form within 48 hours before your time of travel.