Next Steps: What is the experience of students from a care background in education? report

In its newest report in the Next Steps series, UCAS, in partnership with the Unite Foundation, examines the educational experiences of students from a care background.

Here, we identify the potential barriers care-experienced students face in accessing higher education and training, and explore their motivations and expectations as they prepare to take their next steps.

The report makes recommendations for a range of organisations with the aim of easing the transition for care-experienced applicants, who remain underrepresented in higher education.

Key findings include:
  • Three in five care-experienced applicants receive no support specific to their circumstances: 60% of surveyed applicants said they did not receive guidance at school around applying to higher education specific to their status as a care-experienced student, and there is a knowledge gap about support options among both applicants and their advisers.
  • Students’ decision making is influenced by their individual support needs: three quarters of surveyed applicants took mental health and wellbeing support into account (76%), with financial support (64%) and guaranteed accommodation (63%) also important when researching higher education options.
  • Care-experienced applicants have a less linear education pathway: they are 69% more likely to apply aged 21 or above than non-care-experienced applicants, making access to careers advise and statutory support more difficult, and they are over twice as likely to take an Access to HE Diploma.

View the Next Steps: What is the experience of students from a care background in education? report (6.16 MB)

View the report data files (58.01 KB)

View the press release


Compared to non-care-experienced applicants:

more likely to apply aged 21 or over
more likely to be from a disadvantaged background
more likely to identify as LGBT+
more likely to share a mental health condition

Toni Rodgers, student, University of Stirling

Having extended 365-accommodation in halls has really helped me as I didn’t have a home to return to during the summer. It’s made me feel like I have a place to call my own while I’m studying. The financial support was of great benefit as I struggled to find a job due to my studies and mental wellbeing. They guided me through the process and were there to provide support.

Shona Barrie, Director of Admissions and Access, University of Stirling

We aim to provide advice and guidance to support care experienced young people from the moment they embark on their university journey. At Stirling, this begins with comprehensive pre-application and transition support, dedicated information at open days and offer holders days, and single points of contact in Student Support Services.

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