Student Parents

Juggling studies with parenting responsibilities can be challenging. There is a range of support available within Sheffield Hallam and beyond to help you plan your time and finances effectively. Find out more below.


If you have young children, arranging appropriate childcare is often key to you to being able to fully participate in your course.


The University has a nursery for children aged 6 months to 4 years, open to staff, students and the public. It is located at Collegiate Campus and offers:

  • Childcare from 8am to 6pm
  • Term time contracts
  • Free Early Learning sessions for eligible over 2s

If you feel the SHU Nursery does not best suit your family’s needs, then information about other childcare providers and vacancies is available on the following websites.

Each local authority area has a Family Information Directory (FID) which allows parents to search for information about childcare and family services offered locally, regionally and nationally. Below is a list of local FID sites:

Help with Childcare Costs

Arranging childcare working within the funds you have at your disposal can be one of the biggest challenges facing student parents. Advice on help with childcare costs is available here:

Directgov: help with childcare costs – national website giving advice on potential help with childcare costs.

Paying for childcare – Daycare Trust website giving details of the range of funding available to help with childcare costs, whether you’re training, working or learning.

Hallam Volunteering can pay childcare expenses specifically to allow someone to volunteer. Certain criteria apply, so contact the team for more information

Other financial help


The Students’ Union Advice Centre can talk to you about the financial help which might be available to you as a student parent, depending on your circumstances.

You can visit the Advice Centre and speak to an adviser in more detail about what financial support you may be eligible for, see their website for full details and opening hours.

Sheffield Hallam University Hardship Scheme

The University has created a hardship fund to support students who find themselves in hardship, because either they have higher than average living costs, or because they are experiencing exceptional financial circumstances.

The scheme is open to all ‘home’ students who are in attendance on the course, and not taking time out. You need to go online and download the application form and read through the accompanying guidance notes.

The fund is discretionary so there is no guarantee that your application will be successful.

Managing your time

Finding time to study as a student parent is one thing, but knowing how to make best use of the time you set aside for study is even better. The Skills Centre is a great resource for students and they offer workshops and a range of online support tools to help you with your academic studies.. Take a look at the support and information available from The Skills Centre here!

On course support

As a SHU student you will have a Student Support Advisor linked to your course team. This person is your key contact for any course related issues and they can talk to you about the kind of on course support that is available at Sheffield Hallam. You can find out who your Student Support Advisor is and how you can meet them by contacting any Hallam Help Point.

The Students’ Union Advice Centre is separate from the University and can see students about course issues, legal issues, student funding, benefits, debt and housing. If you think you would feel more comfortable speaking to someone outside the University about your situation, then you could start by speaking to someone at the Advice Centre. As they are independent of the University, the Advice Centre is also able (in certain situations) to represent students who feel they are not getting the support they need from the University.

Looking after yourself

There are a range of services which you can access as a student at SHU to help you look after your own physical and mental wellbeing

What to do if something unexpected happens

If events beyond your control relating to your caring responsibilities mean you are:

  • regularly arriving late or leaving early
  • missing lectures, seminars, tutorials or other teaching activities
  • worried you won’t be able to complete work to your usual standards
  • worried about meeting deadlines or being able to attend exams

then there are people you can talk about this. If staff are aware that you are having difficulties then they will do what they can to help. Don’t feel you have to struggle on until you are unable keep up with your studies, make sure you speak to someone as soon as possible.

You can go directly to your faculty Student Support Advisor to discuss things or if don’t feel comfortable speaking to someone from your course team in the first instance then you can always speak to someone from the Students’ Union Advice Centre first.

You can find out who your Student Support Advisor is and how you can meet them by contacting any Hallam Help Point.

Family friendly events and activities

Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union is open to all students and encourages every student to get involved with their wide range of activities. The Union has over 40 sports teams, a diverse selection of societies, numerous volunteering opportunities and organises a range of events, trips and activities throughout the year. Take a look at their website or drop in to speak to staff at the HUBs, City Campus or Heart of the Campus, Collegiate.


If the Union doesn’t feel like the right place for you, then there are loads of opportunities to get involved with local clubs and societies across the City. The Sheffield Help Yourself database provides you with everything you want to know about groups and organisations in Sheffield, including those specifically for children and families. The Welcome to Sheffield website also contains a comprehensive listing of events across the city.

Student Case Study

Louise Kelly

My name is Louise and I’m 39 years old, I joined Sheffield Hallam in September 2014. I had always dreamed of going to University but getting married and taking care of my three children took precedence. Now that my youngest was 7 and in full time education, it seemed a good time to follow my dream of becoming a fully qualified teacher.  I was nervous at first about all the changes and starting education again, but the transition was smooth and I’m so glad I took the opportunity to change my life.  

louise kelly and daughter

The best tip I can give parents is to be organised! Organised with study and organised at home; by finding a happy balance you can manage both and not become overwhelmed.

Setting schedules for study is very important as it is easy to become swamped with work and distracted by the children. I try to do most of my university work when the children are at school, but it’s not always possible, so I often study when they are sleeping or settled down with a good film. I take advantage of the library services at university as much as possible as it’s a place I can sit and concentrate and get my work done.

Giving the children the time they need at home, feeding, playing, loving, homework and support fills my time so when they sleep I get busy with my work and myself. Sometimes I’m tired myself and I think it’s best to get a good rest and study in the morning. Getting enough rest and eating well is important for yourself and everyone’s wellbeing.

Try not to overwhelm yourself, if you do a little bit every day when you have time then you will be able to manage, don’t stress or worry. Plan your work and work your plan!

Organisation is key! Especially at exam or assignment time, I try not to leave everything until the last minute.

A typical university weekday could be a three hour class at university and then home. The great thing about university study for parents is that it really fits around your schedule. Most days I only have to go to university for three hours and that’s generally for three days a week only. The rest of the time is self-study and working at home. This makes it manageable with regards to the many other responsibilities a parent has!

The highlight of studying at university level has been succeeding and achieving life goals – we often don’t believe in ourselves enough and fail to reach out and grab our dreams. Although I may be older in my life years, it’s never too late to follow your dreams and that brings light and happiness into your life. All of my fellow students have been wonderful as have the lecturers and I have felt welcomed and supported throughout.

I chose to study at Sheffield Hallam because it was near my home – I needed the flexibility of being close to my children should they need me, and also no travel times. Starting university can be an anxious time for new students, especially mature students or those with children. Being a Sheffield resident certainly was a deciding factor when choosing where to study.

It’s not always easy studying at university and there will be times when extra support is needed. The university has a great support system which caters for all and I have received  and extra support at assignment times. There are also extra support lessons available to help with academic writing and studies.

My final word would be that the anxiety of starting a new venture does pass, the worries about the children fade and fitting in as a mature student isn’t as hard as I imagined. It’s been a positive and bright experience which I’m glad I took the brave step to make.