A new project exploring how national support for care experienced students can be improved has been commissioned by the Office for Students.
The Office for Students (OfS) has commissioned the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) to undertake the first phase of a national study looking at how a consistent baseline offer of support could transform outcomes for care experienced students.
Studies show that barriers exist for this group at each stage of the student lifecycle, with non-continuation rates being particularly high – experimental data from the OfS shows that in 2017-18, the non-continuation rate for care experienced students was 5.6 percentage points higher than for students who had not been in care. Care leavers have also reported that academic pathways and support offers can be unclear, which may act as a deterrent to accessing higher education.
The NNECL will be conducting a feasibility study with the aim of setting out the current national picture in terms of collaborative, regional approaches to support and offers for care experienced students, focusing on areas such as financial and pastoral support, accommodation and transparency of admissions. The outcome of the study will include recommendations for the OfS, which will inform the shape and scope of phase two of the project.
As part of the project’s initial phase, NNECL is inviting universities, colleges and other higher education providers to take part in a survey to share their experiences of supporting this student group, including any barriers faced. The responses will then feed into the development of the second phase of the project, which will engage with Uni Connect and other local partnerships to examine the challenges of testing and rolling out a consistent baseline offer of support for students who have been in care. Based on these findings, the OfS will explore how the offer of support could be rolled out at a national level by engaging with all higher education providers registered with the OfS.