Support for care leavers
Guidance and support
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 £2,450 a year
You can get a Care Leavers and Foyer Residents 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
You can also get our £750-a year Standalone Bursary, which we pay to undergraduate students who have an annual household income of less than £25,000.
You don't need to pay these bursaries back.
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.
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.
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.
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