Applying for University as a Care Leaver

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Applying for University as a Care Leaver


Applying for University as a Care Leaver – Tick the Box!

In England just 6% of looked after children and care leavers are in higher education, with only 15% achieving 5 A*- C GCSE’s. There is support available to help care leavers looking to attend college or university, and we want to ensure that they know about it.

As a foster carer, you could be the positive influence needed to encourage someone to take that next step. By supporting them through college and university, right the way from their initial application all the way through to that proud moment on graduation day, you could be part of changing a young person’s future for the better.

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Here we have provided some key things to get you and the young person in your care on the road to higher education.


The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is an online admissions portal where a potential student goes to apply to college or university. UCAS offer support and advice to help you through the application process.

Usually, higher education providers will have a large team of support staff for all students including dedicated staff to provide information and support to care leavers and their foster families when starting the application process.

So, when applying to University through UCAS really important that you tick the ‘looked after person’ or ‘care leaver’ box.

Here’s why:

  • Higher education providers can access the appropriate support for the applicant from the very first stage of the application.
  • Higher education providers can assign a dedicated named contact for additional support and queries.
  • They may also qualify for additional financial support.

And remember:

  • Ticking this box will not have any negative impact to an application, it is there to help.
  • All information given is confidential and only the people who need to know will be informed.

More information on UCAS support for care leavers can be found here.


Many people see finances as a barrier to higher education when it really needn’t be. Both students, and foster families may be concerned that it is an expensive route to take, but this doesn’t always have to be the case.

Local authorities and higher education providers can provide additional financial support to looked after children and care leavers who want to attend college or university. How much support will often depend on the authority but some can cover tuition fees and/or accommodation costs as well as provide general grants along with travel expenses to open days and interviews.

For more information on the financial support available to care leavers see Student Finance England, UCAS or contact the college or university directly.

Have you helped a looked after child apply to university? Do you have any top tips on how to help them make a successful application? If so we would love to hear from you, share your experiences with us on our Facebook page or by emailing [email protected].


There are several other places care leavers, looked after children, and their foster families can find support, these are:

Propel – an online information site provided to looked after children by the charity ‘Become’ (formally known as ‘The Who Cares? Trust’). They provide help, support and advice to young people in care to enable them to reach their goals.

The National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) – are committed to the progression and support of care leavers through further and higher education.

StandAlone – helps young people who are no longer in touch with their family take the next step in life. They provide advice, information, and support about finances and accommodation to young adults and discuss options when looking to become a student.