'My achievement will be their achievement': the challenges of role modelling for student parents at UK universities

Mulrenan, Patrick, Redd, Helen, Lewis, Jane and Allison, Heather (2022) 'My achievement will be their achievement': the challenges of role modelling for student parents at UK universities. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 47 (1). pp. 105-117. ISSN 1469-9486


Student parents, particularly women, cite role modelling as a key reason to come to university and persist with their studies. However, this role modelling relationship remains largely unexplored. This study examines the role modelling relationship between student parents and their children. There are distinct practical and emotional challenges faced by student parents, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these impact on the role modelling relationship with their children. Using Bandura’s notion of ‘attention’, we found that there are some potential problems with the theory and practice of student parent role modelling. The 19 students interviewed identified balancing academic study and family life as the key issue, but also identified space as a major concern for participants. Lack of access to the library and campus during COVID was particularly problematic for student parents in practical terms, and in undermining a sometimes-fragile sense of student identity. However, the students were not simply modelling a student identity or aspiration to their children, but demonstrating efficacy, that it was possible to achieve by overcoming obstacles. A key challenge in terms of role modelling was getting an appropriate balance between demonstrating determination, but concealing some of the significant stresses they faced in their studies.

My-achievement-will-be-their-achievement_Accepted-manuscript.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0.

Download (338kB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

View Item View Item