Parents of Kendal student Oskar Carrick who took his own life take campaign to Labour conference

Our political correspondent Tom Sheldrick has been covering the story for us.

The parents of a 21-year-old from Kendal who took his own life while at university have taken their campaign to the Labour Party conference.

Campaigners estimate that about 100 students in the UK take their own lives every year.

His parents are calling for universities to have a legal duty of care for their students - and this week they've taken that message to the Labour Party conference in Liverpool.

Maxine and Gary's son Oskar took his own life in 2021, at the age of 21.

They believe he would still be alive today - if universities had a legal duty of care for their students.

"The only way to change this is to change the law, and the only people who can change the law are politicians," said Maxine Carrick.

"And we want them on side, and we want them to sign this Early Day Motion, and we want to get it moving, because the longer we wait, the more people are at risk, and I don't think that's acceptable."

Gary Potts added: "We'd really like this to be on the election manifesto, that would be an ultimate goal if we could get that far."

Maxine spoke at a conference fringe event yesterday.

Some of those attending were convinced by the arguments.

"I do support their campaign, because it is something that must be there in order to protect lives, to protect our students," said Alina Vaduva university lecturer and Labour councillor.

More than 100 thousand people signed a petition calling for a change in the law, which prompted a debate in parliament in the summer, but there has been no movement from the government.

Oskar's university, Sheffield Hallam, has said that the inquest into his death did not reference any failings on their part.

The university's boss was at a separate event at Labour's conference today - where fellow campaigners had a chance to question him.

Bob Abrahart from the ForThe100 campaign, which calls for higher education providers to have a legal duty of care for students, said: "Students need to know their civil rights.

"Duty of care is a fundamental civil right enjoyed by every working adult in this room, unless they're a student."

Responding to the point, Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said: "I don't believe a statutory duty of care solves the problem.

"We have tried to build a community where students are at the core, where inclusion is at the core, and where we are building mental health material support for students and for staff as a core way in which we operate, and for me, this is a question of culture rather than regulation."

Oskar's parents will be disappointed with that answer, but are optimistic they can win over the politicians to ensure students are better protected.

The government have reiterated today that they don't believe changing the law is the way to go, but say they're allocating more funding towards supporting students with their mental health.

Labour say they'd focus particularly on children's mental health, and ensuring university students can access local NHS services.

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