A LIMERICK college is to be the first third level institute to establish a dedicated service offering support to attending student parents and expectant parents in Ireland.
The aim of the service, which has been established by Mary Immaculate College, is to ensure that student parents and students experiencing crisis pregnancy are aware of the supports available to them, both within the college, and with external agencies, according to an MIC spokesperson.
Following an extensive pilot phase in 2011, MIC recently launched the information guide on a national level.
The aim of The Information Guide for Student Parents and Expectant Parents is to â€œcapture the reality of the 250 student parents and expectant parents who have engaged with the MIC student parent co-ordinator to date,â€ according Nicola Hurley, student parent co-ordinator.
The project has two main aims, according to Ms Hurley. The first aim is that â€œexpectant students, prospective and current student parents, will feel empowered by the information providedâ€.
The second aim is â€œfor the guide to serve as a useful template for other Irish third level institutions in their support of student parents and expectant students,â€ she explained.
â€œWe hope that this information guide captures the reality of student life for this cohort of students as their college experience is dramatically different from that of the â€˜averageâ€™ student,â€ said Ms Hurley.
Professor Michael Hayes, president of MIC said: â€œI commend the authors of the publication for their work and I wholeheartedly agree that this project and guide fulfils our mission to provide an environment where all have the freedom and opportunity to achieve their potentialâ€.
Ms Hurley concluded: â€œWe would like to thank all students who contributed their tips, advice and guidance which can be found throughout the information guide.
We hope this resource will raise awareness of the specific needs and concerns of this cohort on a national level and highlight to other student parents and expectant parents that it can be doneâ€.
Darragh Wynne, president of MISU, acknowledged the support which the project has provided to both student parents and expectant parents.
He remarked: â€œThis information guide will allow the national student body to benefit from the experiences of all those involved in the project to this point. It will be a valuable resource for students and college support staff alike.â€
The project was funded by the HSE, CPP, MIC and other stakeholders.