Childcare facilities offered by the University are “inaccessible”, according to one student parent.
Andrea Ortiz Karpf, a first-year PhD Earth and Environment student, has said students are disgruntled that the University nursery is too expensive and has a huge waiting list.
The nursery, Bright Beginnings, costs about £1,000 a month and has a waiting list of over one year. Andrea put forward the idea to the Better University Forum, calling for special rates and more places for children at the nursery.
Andrea told Leeds Student: “The University nursery is apparently very good and conveniently located. However, it is so expensive that it is only affordable to staff. It also has a waiting list that is so long, most people are likely to graduate before they can get a place for their children.”
She also expressed concern that her academic performance was affected because she could not afford to pay for child care. “Sometimes I do get worried because I have to take care of a child and study at the same time. Even though I work at night and everything, sometimes it feels like a lot”.
1,543 Leeds students have dependants. Andrea has spoken to many other student parents who said they “had the same problem. Most of them take their children to the city council nurseries which are a bit cheaper, but they’re still not really affordable.”
A spokesperson for the University said, “Bright Beginnings Childcare Centre rates are comparable to many other facilities of a similar standard situated close to the city centre. The Centre has an excellent reputation and, partly as a consequence of this, has a long waiting list.
By law the Centre is only allowed to look after a certain number of babies and children, and it would not be possible to exceed this number without expanding the premises.”
The spokesperson highlighted that Bright Beginnings expanded in 2010 – at a cost of just over £3 million – adding a further 68 places. They continued: “The University does not provide alternative childcare facilities, but the Student Advice Centre can give tailored advice and help to student parents.”
Words: Ellie Parkes
Image: Becki Bateman