A defiant mother has claimed her 10-week-old son is the ‘UK’s youngest student’ after she ignored her university’s ban and began taking him to every lecture.
Janine Adamson, 34, from Southampton, fell pregnant while applying for university and since little Tommy was born in January, she has been determined on not losing precious time with her newborn.
The student had initially planned to return to Solent University when Tommy was just two weeks old, but senior staff blocked the move branding it ‘inappropriate’.
However, resilient Janine has disregarded their advice and now carries her baby to lectures in a sling, saying: ‘It’s more about our attachment than a financial decision. He’s my baby and I want him close. I didn’t want to jeopardise my son’s bond with me because I still wanted an education, I’m trying to balance it all.’
The breastfeeding mother-of-three confessed defying the university left her fearing she would be ‘kicked off the course’, but she has now settled into a routine.
Janine Adamson, 34, from Southampton, has claimed her 10-week-old son is the ‘UK’s youngest student’ after she ignored her university’s ‘ban’ on babies and began taking him to every lecture
The mother-of-three fell pregnant while applying for university and since little Tommy was born in January, she has been determined on not losing precious time with her newborn
Janine had already deferred her plans to go to university when she was younger after having her two older children Bradley, now 16, and Maizie, 11, and now they were older she was ready to return to education.
The mother-of-three finished her watch-fixing job during the 2020 lockdown and decided to return to college to study criminal investigation with forensic psychology.
Janine said being on furlough during the 2020 lockdown gave her time to ‘re-evaluate her life’.
She joined a college access course in social science and humanities in 2020, before starting university for two days a week in October 2021.
Janine was met with reluctance from the university when she emailed them about bringing her young son to class
However, when she and partner Owen Roundell-Prince, 25, found out they were expecting a baby she was determined to not let this pregnancy halt any of her plans.
She explained: ‘I started college because my other children were older, then I found I was pregnant, but I wasn’t going to let that affect myself achieving what I set out to do.’
The 34-year-old planned to return to Solent University, with Tommy just two weeks after giving birth in January but senior staff sought to block the move by branding it ‘inappropriate’.
An email sent to Janine from a senior member of staff said: ‘Having spoken with the criminology team and taken advice from the university more widely, including the Student Hub, I am afraid that our decision remains the same.
The mother-of-three finished her watch-fixing job during the 2020 lockdown and decided to return to college to study criminal investigation with forensic psychology
When she and partner Owen Roundell-Prince, 25, found out they were expecting a baby she was determined to not let this pregnancy halt any of her plans
‘It is not appropriate for students to bring a baby to class on a regular basis. I appreciate that this is not the outcome you wanted and I am sorry that I’m not able to agree to your request.’
Solent University has since claimed they do ‘permit babies and children on campus’ but requests are granted on a ‘case-by-case basis’ and are subject to a risk assessment.
However, Janine emailed the university saying most of her work is done at home and she’s only in class for a couple of hours a week for group discussions.
Despite the university’s objections, the mother-of-three was determined, and even shared a TikTok video online of her first day back at university with Tommy.
After emailing the university with her objections about leaving her baby at home, the mother-of-three decided to start bringing him to lectures
The clip went viral with users clamouring to praise the mum’s resilience and commitment to achieving her dream.
Janine said: ‘At first I felt like I wasn’t accepted there (in class), and I felt like any noise he made would get me kicked off the course.
‘At week eight he started to be awake a lot more during lessons but because I’d been going long enough, I felt more comfortable and more at ease.’
‘However, it’s not the same as before. I do feel very isolated. My friends aren’t the same anymore and I sit alone and do my own thing because my priority is Tommy now. I’m okay with that.
Janine said she was determined that having a young son wouldn’t get in the way of her education at the university (pictured, baby Tommy)
‘He’ll be three when I graduate and I’ll get a graduation cap and gown. Hopefully he’ll graduate with me.’
However the mother-of-three has described Solent University’s reluctance to allow her to bring Tommy into university as ‘stressful’ and worse than trying to juggle education with motherhood.
Janine added: ‘I’ve felt like the university wanted to kick me out but there is no policy in place, so I’ve carried going with Tommy regardless.
‘I asked my lecturers if they had any issues and they said it was fine. One of them wanted to confirm with [other senior staff], and then I got an email telling me I can’t return with my baby.
She went on to share a video on TikTok as she brought her newborn into lectures, with the clip quickly going viral
‘They said it wasn’t fair on other students. When my lecturer told me I just broke down in tears and thought everything I’ve worked hard for has gone to waste.
‘They told me that other students defer for a year, but I’m not most students. I’ve already deferred my life.
‘They kept telling me to focus on my recovery so I just stopped communicating with them and went.
‘I’ve not asked the university to support me in any other way apart from me just getting on with it.
Janine explained she feared the university ‘wanted to kick her out’ after she began taking her son to lectures, but said there was ‘no policy in place’
‘I didn’t want anything from anyone, just to put my baby in a sling and carry on.’
Janine said one lecturer asked the class if anyone objected to the baby being in the class, but nobody spoke up so she stayed.
She explained: ‘They’re supporting me now but I feel like it’s short term and I feel like eventually I’ll have to find childcare, but I’m hoping something changes by then. I take each day as it comes.’
Janine hopes sharing her TikTok video will encourage universities to implement supportive policies for mums who would like to bring children to uni.
Janine said one lecturer asked the class if anyone objected to the baby being in the class, but nobody spoke up so she stayed
Her video has been viewed more than 1.5million times on TikTok with users full of admiration for the mother.
One user said: ‘Wow. Amazing mama!!! You are unbelievably strong. I’m going back to uni after having my twins too.’
A second added: ‘Such a beautiful thing. Would be such a special memory to have gone through uni with your little one!’
A third said: ‘You’re an amazing mum who wants to progress and make the best life.’
Janine hopes sharing her TikTok video, which has been watched 1.5m times, will encourage universities to implement supportive policies for mothers who would like to take babies to lectures
However, some users appeared to back Solent University’s initial reluctance.
One user said: ‘I’m not sure how I feel about this. Is it good for the baby to be squished up all day and when he cries, which he will? And that distracts the whole class.’
Another called Erika added: ‘Pretty sure it’s just in case the baby cries and causes a distraction that they don’t want kids in there.’
A third added: ‘I support you going back and it looks like the baby was lovely, quiet and asleep but what happens when he isn’t? Those other students are also paying to be there.’
A spokesperson for Solent University said: ‘The university is committed to supporting all students who are parents and permits babies and children on campus. However, the primary function and design of our campus is to provide teaching, learning and support for students.
Little Tommy is now ten-weeks-old and Janine has even declared he is the ‘UK’s youngest student’ (pictured left and right)
‘Babies are currently permitted in class if the student has pre-arranged this and has an agreement from the course team. A risk assessment, that includes health and safety considerations and an understanding of any potential disruptions to learning, is part of the process.
‘Babies being on campus is currently managed on a case-by-case basis following discussions between the student (with baby) and course team.
‘Students are encouraged to consider suspension of studies if they have a baby during the academic year. This is in line with maternity policies within the workplace and recognises the demands on new mothers and academic study.
‘Should a student with a new-born not wish to suspend their studies, a discussion between them and the course team is necessary to establish how this will take place. This has always worked well in the past and we are looking to introduce a policy that will formalise our approach.’
Janine is determined to balance her life as a mother-of-three (pictured, Maizie, 11 (left) Bradley, 16, holding little Tommy, now ten-weeks-old) with her dreams of higher education