What does the Guaranteed Offer mean for care experienced students in Scotland?

Friday 13 January 2023, UCAS advice


What does the Guaranteed Offer mean for care experienced students in Scotland?

Chloe from Who Cares? Scotland explains how Scottish students can ensure their care experience is taken into consideration when applying to higher education.

The Guaranteed Offer for Care Experienced applicants in Scotland has been a welcome addition to the admissions landscape. Whilst many institutions have been offering adjusted offers for some time, in July 2019 the Guaranteed Offer was formally launched by Universities Scotland in an event co-hosted by Glasgow Caledonian University and Who Cares? Scotland. The Guaranteed Offer seeks to provide equality of access to degree-level study for those who have experience of the care system – there’s no upper age limit and therefore anyone who has experience of care at any point in their life is eligible. Who Cares? Scotland has produced a guide to the Guaranteed Offer which guide takes you through the principles of the policy as well as answering some frequently asked questions.

Despite the Guaranteed Offer being offered by all higher education institutions in Scotland, unfortunately, we know of Care Experienced people still encountering significant challenges when making university applications. There have been instances where it appears that some applications are not being viewed contextually. This is why we need to ensure that all admissions staff understand the context in which a Care Experienced applicant is likely to be applying, and that given the right opportunity and support, Care Experienced people can thrive in higher education. We know that there have been instances where, despite the policy being in place, Care Experienced applicants have been rejected despite holding the minimum entry requirements or without being given the opportunity to meet the minimum entry requirements by receiving a conditional offer.  This is the experience Kira, one of Who Cares? Scotland’s National Representative Body members, had when applying to study a degree:

For the course, I had chosen to study, I had to achieve an A and 3 Bs by the end of S6 but had to achieve the 3 Bs in one year. So despite achieving AABBCC, this wasn’t accepted because I’d done it over 2 years. As a Care Experienced Young Person as well as a Young Carer at the time of my exams the result I did achieve was a bit of a miracle. Through additional support from my community, I managed to enrol in the course of my choice but not without jumping through hoops that I wouldn’t necessarily have had to go through had I been in a traditional household.

Kira’s determination enabled her to gain access to university, however, it shouldn’t have been as challenging as it was. Kira is now studying to become a PE teacher alongside a wide variety of volunteering opportunities.

To find out more about how the Training and Education team at Who Cares? Scotland can support your knowledge and understanding of Care Experience, Corporate Parenting and the Guaranteed Offer, please contact us at corporateparenting@whocaresscotland.org

Chloe Dobson
Training and Education Manager
Who Cares? Scotland