I have currently got some temporary work in a British university (which for obvious reasons had better remain nameless). The student newspaper was running a story recently about the problems of students who were mothers and the following are some extracts:
XXX, a 20-year old student at [university] was told that there was up to a two-year waiting list for the [university] nursery
When asked about the issue, XXX, dean of students, acknowledged the need to provide childcare for students, but said it wasnt top of their list of priorities.
He said: All colleges are crying out for additional space, some would argue why this precious space (nursery) is being taken up at [college site].
Childcare is incredibly important for some students, but I dont think nursery provisions is necessarily the best way to deal with it. Its hugely expensive, he added.
There are 3,820 staff members and 18,052 students at [university], but only 34 places in the university day nursery.
The complacency of the (male) dean is breathtaking: even the current inadequate provision seems almost too much for him, and he noticeably isnt interested in suggesting any alternatives. The message seems clear: as the cover-line of the newspaper puts it: Mums need not apply.
This article particularly wound me up because the university had just been making an enormous fuss about a diversity event the same week, including individual mail-outs to all staff. There is a lot of stress in the university generally on inclusivity, with regular workshops on disability awareness, a new working group to counter homophobia etc. Black or white, gay or straight, able-bodies or with disabilities, my university wants you: just as long as you dont have inconvenient children in tow.