Effective practice advice
We would encourage providers to prioritise the needs of this group to ensure they have the best possible opportunity to access higher education.
Providers should also ensure that students who have been in care have access to high quality pastoral and emotional support, to help them successfully complete their studies and move into employment or further study.
Some suggestions on how to improve support for care leavers are detailed below.
1. Improve data on care leavers
Providers should improve the collection, accuracy and evaluation of care leaver data for prospective and current students.
To do this they will need to engage with those with care experience and local authorities.
Providers can use the data which UCAS collects in the application process to identify care leavers before they enrol.
2. Focus on each stage of the student lifecycle
Studies show that barriers exist for this group at each stage of the student lifecycle, with non-continuation rates being particularly high.
Providers should therefore focus their efforts across each stage of the lifecycle. Suggestions for support at each stage could include:
3. Offer financial support
Under the Children and Young Persons Act 2008, care leavers starting a recognised higher education course may be entitled to a minimum one-off bursary of £2,000 from their local authority.
We encourage providers to supplement this support. Examples include:
- targeted fee waivers, bursaries or scholarships, and priority access to hardship funds
- year-round accommodation
- support for care leavers liaising with local authorities and the Student Loans Company.
4. Sign up to the Care Leaver Covenant
The Care Leaver Covenant is a cross-governmental pledge to support young people transitioning from care to independence.
We encourage providers to sign up to the covenant to help ensure that students who have been in care receive the best possible support to access and succeed in higher education.
Find out more about the covenant
5. Use the government’s guidance
The Department for Education has published principles to guide higher education providers on improving care leaver’s access and participation in higher education.
The information is most relevant for senior leaders, widening participation and student support teams.
See the principles