Student parents are denied access to higher education because of a serious shortage of child-care places, according to a report by the Daycare Trust.
Pointing out that fewer than 40,000 places available to the UK's 5 million students, Learning for Life calls on universities and the government to develop funding strategies to bridge the gap.
Colette Kelleher, director of the Daycare Trust, said the number of student parent drop-outs can be directly related to the problems caused by shortages in child care.
"University is very often an impossible dream for people who have had children early, or for those who wish to return to education after they have had children. Universities and colleges need to take practical steps to monitor the level of this problem."
There is presently no record of the number of student parents attending UK institutions. The Daycare Trust's research also reveals that 40 per cent of the UK's higher education institutions are aware that child-care problems cause students to drop out, while 60 per cent of further education institutions admit that they are aware of the situation.
"There is a complete lack of information about the needs of student parents," Ms Kelleher said.
Launched at a conference this week, the report is part of Childcare and Lifelong Learning in the UK, a two-year research project by the Daycare Trust.