If you are care experienced and looking to apply to higher education, there are some key things to consider when choosing your university or college.
Does the institution have information on the support it provides for care experienced students on its website? This should include details of a designated person, or team, who are available to guide you and help with the transition to university. Will you receive any additional financial support? This might be a specific bursary or priority access to other funding. What about other services such as study skills or support for mental health and well-being? If you are planning to move, will you be able to stay in university accommodation all year round or will other support be available to help you find a good place to live? As well as the information available on UCAS, you can find details of many institutions’ current offers for care experienced students on the Propel website.
In lots of cases, universities and colleges will also help with the applications process itself. This could include outreach activities and events via your virtual school or help with your personal statement for the UCAS form. Please don’t feel anxious about ticking the box on the form to say you have care experience. This means that institutions can start to provide any further help and support you may need and it will not affect their decision on whether to offer you a place.
In June 2021, the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL), was delighted to launch its new Quality Mark for universities and colleges to demonstrate the support they provide for care experienced students. The Quality Mark covers the whole student lifecycle from outreach and admissions through to graduation (and beyond). It includes all of the areas described above, and many more, such as opportunities for work experience, study visits and effective careers guidance. We have now awarded the Quality Mark to 32 universities and colleges with others going through the process. As more institutions go on to achieve this award, we hope it will be an extra, helpful source of information to assist you in choosing where to study. So, do look out for our new Quality Mark and, if an institution doesn’t have it yet, make sure it is providing the kinds of support mentioned above.