TREY made a report on the matter!
Students with families are part of the Student Union of Tampere University’s Action Plan for this year. The aim of the project is to create clearer ways for TREY to engage in advocacy work related to students with families.
The project was started in Spring 2023. The plan for the project consisted of conducting a survey in order to obtain up-to-date information on the needs and, above all, wishes of students with families. The survey was conducted from 11 September to 30 September 2023 and a total of 192 responses were received to the survey.
The survey questions were divided into three different categories: the university and studies, the City of Tampere and its services, and the student community. Additionally, we asked for development suggestions and ideas related to these areas specifically. In this text we have highlighted some of the most relevant ideas from the survey’s answers!
University and studies
Many responses related to the university and studies showed a split between the respondents. Some respondents have been able to combine the family life and their studies very well, have felt understood and accommodated in teaching situations and have gotten the necessary flexibility to ensure the smooth progress of studies. However, the answers also show that some people do not feel welcome on campus with their child or are not given accommodations regarding their studies, for example, when their child falls ill. 34% of respondents say it has not been easy to participate in educational situations with a child.
In particular, the survey answers highlighted a desire for a collection of information on the matter that could be found from some university communication channel. Campus facilities do not serve the needs of students with families in the best possible way: many wished for breastfeeding rooms, better childcare facilities and pram parks. Many students wished for more accommodations regarding their studies. Students wished for accommodations that take into consideration the everyday life of a family with children or when their child falls ill, for example. Online teaching and learning was said to be helpful because it makes it easier to complete studies, which is why many wished for more online teaching as well.
The respondents felt that there was not enough support for students who wished to study internationally. International students also felt that they do not receive enough guidance or information from the university when they come to Finland.
City of Tampere and its services
Overall, the respondents found the city’s services to be relatively satisfactory. The respondents wished for the development of communications in order to make information about different services and activities easier to find. People wished that the day care facilities would be closer to their homes and felt that the opening hours of the day care facilities do not serve them as desired.
The student community
Students with families often felt that they were the outsiders in the student community. 42% of the respondents felt that current tutoring does not take students with families into consideration. 59% of respondents feel that their own student association does not organise events that are childfriendly and that they could attend with their child. The need for peer support is highlighted in the wishes of students with families.
However, according to the results of the survey, the student community’s attitude toward students with families is supportive and understanding. 6% of the respondents had encountered discrimination or inappropriate comments in the student community due to their family situation.
So what’s next?
Based on the results, a plan has been created to respond to the problems and wishes raised in the survey. There will be discussions with various interest groups, both the university, the City of Tampere and within the student community.
One of the planned measures has already been implemented! The survey highlighted the need for peer support as well as the need for a discussion platform. You can find such a discussion platform from Telegram! You can join the Telegram group by sending a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, TREY’s service offices are developing loanable toy and activity kits for children of different ages! These activity kits can be picked up during service office opening hours. We will carry out a survey within TREY on the organisation of family-friendly events and also communicate the need for TREY’s associations. Of course, we will also communicate the results to our interest groups and use the results to support our advocacy work.
Students with families are a large group whose existence is often forgotten both when planning studies and when organising student events. According to the Eurostudent VII study, 12.7% of university students have children and many students with families are students in the fields of education, health and welfare, and social sectors in particular. All student demographics deserve to feel part of this university community and therefore we must not forget students with families either.