If a student's parent(s) or carer(s) is serving as a Regular or Reservist in the UK Armed Forces, or has done so in the past, their experience of going to university may be different to their non-Service peers. We have worked with the Service Children’s Progression (SCiP) Alliance to explain how you can practically support Service children along their journey to higher education.
Pre-application and research phase
- Identify students whose parent(s) or carer(s) have served, or are currently serving in the regular UK Armed Forces, or as a reservist (the pastoral team in your school or college may be able to help with this), and flag that support is available in HE.
- Direct students to find out more – the SCiP Alliance website is a good starting point and there is information and advice on ucas.com.
- Be mindful that not all Service children may be known to the school or college, especially if their parent(s) or carer(s) are no longer serving in the Armed Forces.
- If a student has been bereaved, they may be eligible for the Armed Forces Bereavement Scholarship Scheme (AFBSS) – it may be a good idea to signpost this with the student’s parent or carer.
- Check if students have any caring responsibilities (see information for carers elsewhere in this toolkit).
- Students who have been affected by frequent school moves, parental deployment, and family separation may find they need help to manage their mental health and wellbeing. Make sure they know there is support available in HE and encourage them to share any existing mental condition in their application to make sure support is put in place (see information above).
When they’re applying
- Encourage students to share their circumstances in the ‘More about you’ section of the application, explaining that this information will be used to connect them to any support the university may offer. To find out more about sharing this information, visit the FAQs page.
Note: Most applicants living outside of the UK due to a parent’s posting, will have a BFPO (British Forces Post Office) address for receiving mail – they should select ‘BFPO address’ as the address type in the UCAS application – they can check BFPO addresses on GOV.UK. Rarely, applicants may not have a BFPO address - they will not see the UK Armed Forces family question in the ‘More about you’ section if they enter a non-UK address. In this instance, we recommend they contact their choices about their circumstances – both to clarify their residency status and access any support. With the applicant’s consent, you may also wish to highlight their circumstances in the reference, where appropriate.
- Encourage aspirational choices, especially if frequent school changes have impacted their attainment as this may be taken into context by the admissions team.
- Use the reference to flag frequent school changes, learning gaps, parental deployment, and any care responsibilities – especially where this has affected the student’s attainment or performance – SCiP Alliance has guidance for advisers.
- Advise students to use their personal statement to highlight the skills and strengths gained through their experiences – point them towards SCiP Alliance’s guidance for students for help.
- Prompt students to apply for student finance. If in doubt about which funding body they should apply to, check this guidance from Gov.uk, or contact the funding body directly.
- Remind students to update their contact details if they move after submitting their application.
Preparing for the transition to university or college
- Check if students have concerns about leaving home, especially if parents are deployed or need care. It’s a good idea for them to contact student services and find out what help is available should they need it (e.g. mental health support, peer and support groups).
- For students who have learning gaps due to mobility, check what academic support is offered to fill any gaps in skills caused by mobility.
- Tell students about MOOCs that can help them prepare for HE, such as the Preparing for university course from FutureLearn.
- Make sure they know who to contact at university or college if they have any questions or problems when they arrive.