"I can’t get the practical hours”: Care, course choice and role conflict among student-mothers in higher education in Scotland

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Mothers who study at a higher education level face many challenges that traditional students do not. They have less time to study and must negotiate their different commitments and responsibilities, which includes taking care of their children. This article reports on qualitative research conducted with a small group of mothers that study at a prestigious university in Scotland to understand their experiences of belonging to the space of the institution and their perceived learning challenges. Four interviews and one focus group were organised, voice recorded and their transcripts were thematically analysed and engaged with the research questions. It has found that they experience limited support from the institution which is compensated by family and peer support, changes in courses to accommodate their needs and varied levels of emotional distress. Experiences of student-mothers remain largely invisible in scholarly research and higher education policy. Thus, this paper contributes to a bridging of this gap by bringing the voices of student-mothers to the foreground.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-170
JournalRASE - Revista de Sociología de la Educación
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • student parents
  • Mothers
  • care
  • Higher education
  • Widening Participation

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