Universities and colleges welcome students from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience.

Students whose parent(s), carer(s), or partner are current or former UK Armed Forces personnel may find there are unique circumstances to consider when making their applications. They may also be able to get extra support from their chosen university or college.

Students from UK Armed Forces families (Service children)

If your parent(s) or carer(s) is serving as a Regular or Reservist in the UK Armed Forces, or has done so in the past, your experience of applying to higher education may be different to students from a non-service background. For example, you may have moved schools more often than most students, or you may have felt unable to participate in extracurricular activities.

Universities and colleges understand that students from UK Armed Forces families (Service children) may experience disruption to their education, or been restricted in their course choices. They’re also aware young people can face additional challenges when a parent or carer is deployed. They're keen to know about your circumstances, because it allows them to consider your academic achievements in context.

If you feel you have missed any skills or knowledge, they may be able to help through workshops or summer schools. You could also investigate MOOCs to help you prepare for your course, such as the Preparing for University course from FutureLearn.

But, universities and colleges aren’t only interested in your results. Students from UK Armed Forces families (Service children) often develop highly valued, unique skills and strengths as a result of their circumstances, such as being an independent learner, or being able to adapt to different situations quickly. The Service Children’s Progression (SCiP) Alliance has worked with UCAS to develop guidance for Students from UK Armed Forces families (Service children) applying to university – including advice on how to complete your personal statement to showcase these strengths.

Once you’re at university, you may be able to access additional support. This can include:

  • financial help
  • mentoring
  • study support to help you fill any gaps in your learning

Before you apply, contact student support services at the university or college to check what help is available, and to discuss your needs

Support for service children

Read more about the support available for children from Armed Forces families on the Service Children’s Progression Alliance (SCiP Alliance) website. 

More about support

The UCAS application

For students applying to start their course in 2023, UCAS has introduced a new section called 'More about you' in the application so you can share more information about your circumstances with the university or college – including whether you are from a UK Armed Forces family. This information means the university or college will be able to connect you to the right support for your needs quickly and easily and ensure you have all the information you need.

If either or both of your parents have served in the UK Armed Forces, just select ‘yes’ from the drop-down box in the question that asks about this in the ‘More about me’ section of the application. You will not have to give any further details at this stage.

Read more about sharing information about sharing your circumstances in the UCAS application on our FAQs page and in this blog article from the Ministry of Defence.

When you share this information, the university or college may get in touch with more information about how they can help you – and to tell you more about your options. This information is treated sensitively and only shared with those responsible for arranging support and helping you with your application. Knowing about your circumstances may also help admissions staff consider your achievements in context - it won’t reflect negatively on your application.

If you are living overseas because your parent is serving outside the UK

In many cases Service personnel living overseas will have been given a BFPO (British Forces Post Office) address for receiving mail – select ‘BFPO address’ as the address type in your UCAS application if this applies to you. If you do not know your BFPO address, you can check it on GOV.UK.

In rare instances, applicants may not have a BFPO address – if this applies to you, you will not see the UK Armed Forces family question in the ‘More about you’ section. Instead, we recommend you contact your choice to advise them of your circumstances – both to clarify your residency status and to ensure you can access any support. You may also want to talk to your referee to see if they could mention this in your reference.

Your personal statement

Some students wonder if they should mention their circumstances in their personal statement – this is a completely personal decision and you should only do so if you feel it is relevant to your application. We have worked with SCiP Alliance to create a guide to writing your personal statement.

You're in control
If you decide you don’t want support, you can choose not to accept it. But if you change your mind later on, or your circumstances change, it’s ready for you.
Provider support varies
Not all universities and colleges offer the same type of support, so research your options before you apply to make sure they offer what you need.

Connect with other service children

Aged 16-19 and from an Armed Forces family? 

Connected Forces is a free, secure online community where you can chat to others in similar circumstances, get careers advice, develop your skills, and access resources. (Created by SCiP Alliance, Brightside, and the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.) 

Do you have any care responsibilities?

If you care for a family member, whether this is consistently or periodically (e.g. when a parent is deployed), many universities and colleges can offer additional support to help you succeed in your studies, and manage your care responsibilities.

Find out more about students with caring responsibilities.

Need more information?

Spouses and partners of UK Armed Forces personnel

Partners and spouses of UK Armed Forces personnel can sometimes find it challenging to pursue their own education goals. We recommend discussing your circumstances with the university or college before you apply. They’ll give you more information about your options, and the support they can offer.

If high mobility is preventing you from applying to university or college, it might be worth investigating the different routes you can take, such as distance or online courses – find out more about distance and part-time learning. You may be able to change your university or college if you move find out more about changing your course or provider. If you already have a professional qualification, refresher courses might help you back into a career.

The personal statement is a good opportunity to give more context around your circumstances and how these may have affected your study decisions, or previous education and employment. It is also important to consider how your experiences have given you skills that will be useful for your studies and ongoing career. With your permission, your referee may also highlight your background in your reference.

Parents and carers

Find out what additional support is available: 

Students with care responsibilities

Students with parenting responsibilities

Need more information?