About the University

Parenting and Childcare Support

Review of Parenting and Childcare Support

Process for University wide review during 2017

Supporting staff and students who are parents is central to Newcastle University’s commitment to gender equality and ensuring that we create an inclusive working environment for all. Parents regularly raise the issue of childcare provision through student and staff focus groups, the NU Women and NU Parents’ Networks, and by direct contact with the Diversity Team. In particular, the lack of an onsite childcare facility continues to be of widespread concern.

This review originated as the need to explore the business case for an onsite childcare facility. Newcastle is the only university in the North East that does not currently offer childcare facilities, and 21/24 competitor Russell Group universities provide childcare facilities as part of a standard package of support for staff and students. There is a clear business need to address this issue:

  • We compete in a global market to attract and recruit the best talent: it is important that we are seen as a dynamic and forward-thinking institution that helps staff balance their commitments inside and outside of work
  • Not having a dedicated childcare facility means that we increase the burden on (predominantly) early career staff and students, by increasing their need for longer travel times and arranging flexible working.
  • We lose female talent across the career pipeline and need to better support the career progression of women. Making childcare more easily accessible for staff and students could help retain women in our workforce.
However, an onsite nursery is not the only issue raised by parents. For example, students with young families report that the lack of crèche facilities presented a barrier to attending their own graduation ceremony, and staff highlight a need to provide better support for parents when taking extended periods of parenting leave. In order to fully support parents who are studying and working at Newcastle University, we need to understand the full range of challenges and barriers experienced by staff and students, and develop solutions to address them.
In 2017, we will set up a Parenting and Childcare Working Group (PCWG) to undertake a comprehensive review of our current provision for parents that will:
  • Evaluate Newcastle University’s current childcare provision in relation to the needs of parents, and identify areas where we can improve.
  • Develop and propose initiatives, policies and cultural changes to address issues raised by staff and students that will better enable them to balance their family commitments with their study, work and career aspirations.
  • Recommend changes to key University Committees for implementation.

Through interviews and focus groups, the PCWG will explore the experiences of staff and students in order to better tailor our childcare provision and support for parents across campus. It will involve collecting parents’ views on key issues, including: childcare provision, policies and support around periods of extended parental leave, and attitudes and culture on campus. We will survey parents on key issues, and seek the best ways to enhance our support, including looking at existing provision at competitor universities. The review is funded by the three Faculties, and will develop robust recommendations that can be considered by relevant University committees, including the University Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team, Diversity Committee and University Executive Board.