Male student getting advice from female advisor

Funding and help

See what's available if you've spent time in care

Going to university is exciting, but it can be daunting too. And if you've spent time in care, you might find it more difficult to enter higher education.

We can make it easier for you to access the support and funding you need before you apply. You'll also get ongoing personal and financial support during your course so you can concentrate on your studies.

We've signed up to the Care Leaver Covenant – a pledge to provide support for care leavers.

Help and support

Here's a summary of the help and support you'll get as a care leaver when you study with us.

A designated advisor

You'll get a designated member of staff who'll advise and guide you on your support needs the whole time you're at university.

When you start your course, they'll make sure you have all the information you need to access the student support services including help with academic, disability and wellbeing needs.

Your designated advisor can also:

  • Do a 'health check' on your finances
  • Help you create a budget and plan your spending
  • Help you access continued local authority support

You'll receive a newsletter every term so you can stay up-to-date with opportunities and events to enhance your university experience.

Welcome ambassador scheme

As a new student, we'll invite you to join our welcome ambassador scheme to help you settle in at university.

Welcome ambassadors are current students who can share their experiences of starting university with you. They can also put you in touch with other new students who have the same interests as you.

Bursaries of up to £1,700 a year

You can get a Care Leavers bursary of £1,700 a year if you’re a full-time undergraduate or postgraduate UK student and any of the following applies:

  • You’ve spent significant time in care, some of which was in your teens
  • You’ve lived in sheltered accommodation or a Foyer Federation for reasons related to your physical or mental wellbeing

For students who are estranged from their parents (and have been assessed by Student Finance England as independent because of this) the University has £1,000-a year Stand Alone bursary, which we pay to UK undergraduate students who have an annual household income of less than £25,000.

Please note you can only receive either the Care Leavers or the Stand Alone bursary.

You don't need to pay these bursaries back.

Housing support

Guaranteed year-round accommodation

We guarantee care leavers accommodation in a halls of residence all year round, so you don't have to worry about finding somewhere to live over the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays.

You'll need to cover the cost of your accommodation yourself, but you could apply for a Unite Scholarship to cover your halls fees (see below).

Unite Scholarship – a free place in halls

This scholarship is awarded by the Unite Foundation and gives care leaver/experienced or estranged students a free place in a Unite hall of residence for a maximum of 3 years.

Who's eligible?

You could get this scholarship if all the following apply to you:

  • you’ve spent time in care or you’re estranged from your parents
  • you’re a full-time undergraduate UK student aged under 25 at the start of your course
  • your household income is less than £25,000 a year
  • you're starting or studying on your first undergraduate course

There are a limited number of these scholarships, so not everyone who's eligible will be successful.

You can get this scholarship alongside the Stand Alone Bursary or Care Leavers Bursary.

How to apply for the Unite Scholarship

You can apply for this scholarship once you've made the University of Portsmouth your firm choice via UCAS.

Applications should be completed using the United Foundation application form, and submitted to with any relevant evidence. Applications submitted directly to the Unite Foundation will not be considered.

Applications should reach us no later than 9.00am on Thursday 4 June 2020. 

If you require confirmation of your eligibility or any additional information, please contact the Student Finance Centre.


You won't be able to get this scholarship on foundation, repeat or placement years.


Finding employment

As a care leaver, you're guaranteed an interview for a role as a University Student Ambassador.

Being a Student Ambassador is a great way to earn extra cash while promoting the benefits of university to prospective students. You'll work at events such as Open Days and higher education fairs.

You'll also get priority status on our Careers and Employability Mentoring Scheme. You'll get expert, tailored advice on getting a job and developing your career from our Careers and Employability service. This advice is available throughout your course and for 5 years after you graduate.

Getting care leaver support

To get care leaver support, you just need to declare your care status on your UCAS application.

If you haven't applied yet or you've already submitted your application, you can contact us to let us know you're a care leaver by email at or by phone on 023 9284 3044.

We'll only use this information to give you the support you need – it won't affect how we assess your application.

Eligibility for care leaver support

You can get most of this care leaver support if you've lived in care at any stage of your life. But one of the following will need to apply to you to access some of this support:

  • You've spent at least 13 weeks in care, some of which was during your teens, and you're leaving the care system in the 12 months before you start university
  • You're a 'former relevant child pursuing education' – this usually means you've spent at least 13 weeks in care, some of which was during your teens, but may depend on your local authority

If you're unsure of your eligibility, we can check for you – contact us by email at or phone us on 023 9284 3044.

Contact information

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