Russell Group comment on support for care-experienced students

30 November 2022

In response to the UCAS/Unite Foundation ‘Next steps’ report exploring the experiences of care-experienced students in their progression to higher education, Chantel Le Carpentier, Policy Analyst at the Russell Group, said:

"Our universities work hard to support talented students into higher education regardless of their background, and we’re pleased that the number of care-experienced applicants accepted onto courses at higher tariff institutions has doubled since 2018.

"This report is right to highlight the importance of providing specific support to care-experienced students as they navigate the application process, as well as throughout their time at university and beyond. In addition to pre-entry support such as visit days and outreach to schools and colleges, our members provide tailored support for estranged and care experienced students, including one-to-one advice, drop-in sessions and financial support."

Examples of support provided to students from care experienced and estranged backgrounds

Many Russell Group universities are signatories to the 'StandAlone pledge' to ensure that estranged students have access to the additional support they may need to thrive. 

The University of Nottingham provides wrap-around support for care leavers and care-experienced students to attempt to mitigate the multiple challenges they face in progressing to university and succeeding in their studies and beyond. The university provides extensive pre-entry support to address barriers that prevent the students accessing higher education. Care leavers and care experienced students are given access to specific campus visit days and the university runs a care professionals’ day to ensure those supporting looked-after children understand how they can help them into higher education. They receive contextual offers, and are offered pre-entry consultations with widening participation teams, academics or financial services representatives.

Once at the university, care leavers and care experienced students are eligible for bursary assistance of up to £3,000 annually and are allocated a mentor who offers ongoing support throughout the year. Widening participation staff are in regular contact with students to ensure they are receiving all the financial support to which they are entitled.

The University of Leeds Plus Programme has supported 176 Undergraduate students and 21 Masters students from care experienced and estranged backgrounds during 2021/22. This year, its ever evolving support has included regular coffee and catch ups, in person and online drop-in sessions and one-to-one advice and signposting. In December 2021 students in this target group each received a £50 gift voucher as a festive gift, and in June 2022 returning students received a payment of £550 to support their summer costs.

Working with its Careers Service, the university has enhanced its support for graduating students to help them to move smoothly out of university life. During June and July newsletters were sent offering information on graduate jobs and other practical advice. To help graduating students, a £600 graduation payment was offered to cover the cost of their gown and photos, as well as to support them during their first few weeks out of university.

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