A carer is anyone who has a commitment to providing unpaid care to a family member or friend who could not cope without their support. This may be due to illness, disability, a mental health issue, or substance misuse.
Pre-application and research phase
- Identify students who have caring responsibilities (the pastoral team in your school or college may be able to help with this) flag that support is available, including practical support and financial assistance.
- Signpost students to more information and advice - the Carers Trust website and information on ucas.com are good starting points.
- Be mindful that that not all students with caring responsibilities will be known to the school or college, and some will not think their caring ‘counts’. Many young carers don’t fully understand their rights - this guide to young carers’ rights from Carers Trust will help them understand this better.
- Check if work placements or off-site learning are likely to cause a problem, and encourage them to discuss this with the university or college before they apply to understand how they can manage any conflicting responsibilities.
- Encourage the student to contact the local authority to find out what support is available – this can include information and guidance, and individual and group support. Some services have links with widening participation and outreach teams at universities – find services near you.
- Students managing conflicting priorities can find there is an impact on their health and wellbeing. Make sure they know there is support available in HE to look after this, and encourage anyone with an existing condition to share this on the UCAS application so the university or college can put support in place – more information above.
When they’re applying
- Encourage aspirational choices – some young carers feel that they cannot give up their caring responsibilities. However, the local authority has a responsibility for those in need of care and carers have a right in law to receive support that allows them to meet their own personal goals, including education.
- Use the reference to highlight any circumstances which may have affected a student’s attainment or performance.
- Advise students to use the personal statement to highlight skills gained as result of their caring role (e.g. independence, determination, juggling priorities) – direct them to this UCAS personal statement guide, developed by students, to help carers write their personal statements.
- Help students apply for any bursaries or grants, either from the university or college or through a charitable organisation, and start this process as early as possible. If a student is planning to study part-time, they may be eligible for the Carer’s Allowance – more information on gov.uk.
- Check students can attend applicant visit days and interviews – they may be able to access support from the local authority to help with costs.
- Prompt students to think about planning respite and additional care, as there may be logistic and financial implications they need help managing this.
During Confirmation and Clearing
- If students don’t achieve their grades, check the university or college is aware of any mitigating circumstances.
- If students are going through Clearing, remind them to mention their caring responsibilities and to check that the university or college can support them.
Preparing for the transition to university or college
- Remind students to contact the university or college to discuss their academic support needs (e.g. anxieties about workload) and practical support (e.g. on-site parking).
- Make sure students have started thinking about budgeting – more information and advice on ucas.com. They may also be able to access advice through their local carers service.
- Get students thinking about how they will move to university or college and buy the equipment they need (e.g. bedding, kitchen equipment).
- Check they know who to contact at the university or college if they have any academic or pastoral questions when they arrive.
- Read the Charlie Waller student guide for young carers making the transition to university.