Taking the next step – a guide for care leavers applying for university

Going to university can be daunting for anyone, but for someone who is in care, it may add an extra level of anxiety to the process.

Here are some tips to bear in mind if you are a care leaver and are thinking about going to university:

Speak to universities directly

Contact the universities you are interested in studying at as soon as you can. Ask them what support is in place for care leavers. You can also look on their websites to see what is on offer – try typing into an internet search engine the name of the university and ‘care leaver’ to help you find the webpages about what they can offer you.

Tick the box

When you apply to university, there is a box that you can tick that lets the university know that you have been in care. By ticking this box, your chosen universities can let you know what additional support you are entitled to – this could include finance, accommodation and other support services. Some universities will take your care-experience into account when making an offer. This is called a contextualised or adjusted offer, and is often a grade or two lower than a standard offer


The Department for Education has already extended the offer of support from a Personal Adviser to all leavers to the age of 25, while all care leavers who go to university are entitled to a £2,000 bursary from their local council, £1,200 from the college if they go into further education and £1,000 for the first year of an apprenticeship.

Do your research

There are organisations out there who work with care leavers to help them achieve their goals, including going to university. A good place to start is Propel, run by Become, a charity that works with children in care and care leavers. Here you’ll find information about moving into higher education from care and details about the support individual UK universities offer. Visit the Propel website here.

Want to find out more? Visit the UCAS website for more information: UCAS: support for care leavers

Watch this video to hear about the experiences of care leavers who have gone to university.

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