Case Study- Kaniz Chowdhury

Kaniz and Kaysam

Kaniz Chowdhury is studying a Masters in Science at Leed’s university. She has one son, Kaysam. Kaniz told Student Parents about the many issues she’s faced, including childcare, and her son becoming ill during her January exams.

‘I love being a student parent, but it is also very challenging. There is very little support and studying has not been easy!’


Accommodation:

Like many student parents, Kaniz is an international student. She applied for the university’s family accommodation, but was not accepted and told her name would go on a waiting list. Despite Leeds offering the most family accommodation to students than any other UK university ranked in the top 50, 96% of all those who apply get put onto the waiting list.

“We found private rented accommodation, and had a short term lease for 3 months. However, it was very expensive and more than we could afford, really. We accepted it anyway; otherwise we would have no place to live. 2 months into our contract, the university called and said they could provide us with accommodation, which was cheaper than what we were in now, but we would have to start paying there and then. So for a whole month we were paying the rent for two flats! That was a hard month!”

Eventually, Kaniz and her family moved into the university accommodation, which she tells us is not only cheaper, but also nicer and far more spacious. “We feel settled now, but we know quite a few other people who didn’t get university accommodation and are still facing the problems we had.”

Childcare:

Childcare has been another issue for Kaniz. While Leeds does provide on site childcare, the university does not actually run the nursery. It turns out it is one of the nicest nurseries in the city, and it also comes at a price!

“It was £25 to go on the waiting list alone. Although the facilities are very nice, I couldn’t afford it, and there is cheaper childcare off campus. Also, 80% of the children at the nursery are children of staff, so once again there is a long waiting list to use the facility.”

Kaniz now uses a childminder service, where she pays by the hour. While this works out cheaper for her and is more convenient, it is far from ideal.

“The childminder is flexible, because its by the hour. I don’t need to book out time in advance, I can just take Kaysam along, and pay when I collect him. My only issue is, sometimes when I have a lot of work, I might want to work longer hours at the university. When this happens, it means the childcare can get very pricey. My husband works very long hours as it is and we get no extra funding or loans from the university. It may only be an hour but there are times when I really cannot afford it.”

Exams:

Probably the most difficult challenge Kaniz has faced so far was during her exams 2 months ago in January. Over Christmas, Kaysam caught a bug and was prescribed some drugs by the doctor, which he had an allergic reaction to. His whole body came out in a rash and he was in and out of hospital for weeks. Kaysam began to have other reactions, and became very ill. The doctors decided to keep him in the hospital for 3 weeks, which was before and during Kaniz’s exam.

“It was a very tough time. Kaysam was so good about it but as a mother you worry. I was in and out of hospital and missed a lot of revision lectures. Of course, when it comes down to it, my son is more important, but you put a lot of time and money into studies so you don’t want them to suffer.

“I spoke to the university, and they said I could sit the exam in summer instead. But for me, this didn’t seem a good option either. I have a lot of other exams and work in summer, and it would be a lot to deal with then as well, so I decided to take the exam.”

Kaniz would visit her son in hospital every evening and revise whenever she could, even at the hospital. Her husband said she was tense and worried for a very long time. He would try and be there, but he needed to work as well.

Kaysam has since fully recovered and Kaniz is still waiting on her exam results.

“A lot of the time I find,” Kaniz says, “that being a parent and a student is just normal for me. I have a lot of challenges because of it, but I don’t have a problem actually being a parent. Kaysam understands when I am not there, and is happy with the childminder. I love studying and being a parent, there are just a lot of things you have to consider. Kaysam’s illness during the exam was horrible, I hope I never have to do that again! But being a student and a parent is just doing two things I love at the same time!”

Lillie

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