University students could help tackle a "crisis" in childcare which is leading working parents to despair, a report suggests.
A new campaign is aiming to link parents with local students available for childcare or babysitting.
James Pinniger, who has helped to launch the Student Nannies initiative, said the idea would help students struggling with tuition fees and rising costs as well as parents wanting to return to work.
He said: "There are over two million students studying at UK higher education institutions.
"If just 1% of these students signed up to Student Nannies it could help more than 20,000 families with their childcare.
"Our network of students can work flexibly to help parents with the challenges of after-school care, babysitting and school holiday cover.
"By making it easier for parents to hold down demanding jobs we are boosting the economy, and by networking with professional parents through our community, students can gain career contacts, insights and mentors, helping them to kick-start their careers and get into the workplace themselves."
The company has over 1,000 parents and students signed up, mainly in London and the home counties, but is aiming to extend to other parts of the UK.
European students currently studying in the UK are proving very popular with parents because of their language skills.