Help and advice for care leavers

Relevant to

Ben Jordan is the Senior Policy Executive at UCAS. Here, he shares why you’re asked whether you’re a care leaver on your university application, and where you can find support if you’ve been in care.

We aim to help people make informed choices that best suit their aspirations and abilities, and give them the best opportunity to succeed. We provide information and advice to around 720,000 applicants each year. This includes people with a range of individual needs, including care leavers.

We know there are many challenges faced by care leavers when applying to uni, so we offer the chance to state whether you’re a care leaver on your application, as this helps course providers better understand your background, and offer support in many ways.
 
Asking the question

In the personal details section, we ask 'Have you ever been in care?' If you answer 'Yes', we’ll ask how long you’ve been in care for. We’ve avoided using the statutory definition of a care leaver, because we recognise that learners who’ve been in a care-like situation, but aren’t statutory care leavers, may also require support. This question lets universities and colleges know you have personal circumstances that may require extra support while you’re studying. After they receive your application, they will often contact you to discuss the type of support you may need.

You can provide information about your situation in the personal statement section of your application. However, you can send details to the universities or colleges separately if you prefer.

We have also recently added new help text, to make it as clear as possible why you’re being asked this question, and to explain how universities and colleges may use this information. Universities and colleges offer a range of support to care leavers, including year-round accommodation, financial, and study support. The the Propel search tool will help you find out what support is available at a particular course provider – support on offer will vary from university to university.

Getting help

If you’re a care leaver or helping someone who is, you’ll find lots of information and advice on our website to help support you. This includes:

  • information about the type of support offered by universities and colleges
  • details of the financial support available to care leavers
  • links to organisations that can offer further information, such as Propel

What do you think?

We’ll continue to support all applicants as they progress to higher education, including care leavers. If you have any ideas or suggestions about how we can best achieve this, please email us at webenquiries@ucas.ac.uk or Tweet us at @ucas_corporate.