Young people in care should be able to aim high and fulfil their potential. This might include going to university. When applying to university via UCAS, young people with care experience should tick the box to say that they have lived in care, so they can get the support they are entitled to, to help them enter and thrive at university.
What’s the problem?
Young people who have lived in care are not accessing the support available to them when applying to university and once they are studying. Going to university can be a huge challenge. This can particularly be the case for those who have lived in care, who may have faced additional problems in life and may not have a family to support them through higher education.
Applicants must ‘Tick the Box’ on their UCAS form to say they have been in care so that universities know that they are entitled to support, but the number of young people ticking the box isn’t as high as it should be. The Fostering Network believes that too many care experienced young people are missing out on support, and we want to change that.
What support is available?
The support on offer will vary from university to university, and can range from additional financial support, in the form of a bursary, to practical support to help care leavers settle into university, find accommodation or manage finances.
Some universities will take 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. Each university has a different applications process, which they will explain on their website.
Universities will treat the information about care-experience as confidential and will not label or negatively discriminate against a student because they have been looked-after.
Scottish students who are care experienced can also apply for additional financial support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).
There is more information available on the Propel website.
Support the campaign
The Tick the Box campaign aims to make sure young people know that it is important to tick the care experienced box on their UCAS application, so their applications can be processed fairly and they can access the right support at university.
Schools and colleges have a huge role to play in encouraging young people to apply to university. By speaking to your local school or college about ticking the box, you can make spread the word and encourage more young people to access the support to which they’re entitled.
- Find out who leads on university applications at your local school and how to contact them. It could be the Head of Sixth Form/College or Head of Year for fifth/sixth year. Their email address should be on the school's website.
- Use the link or copy and paste the text below into a new email and send it to your local school's Head of Sixth Form or Head of Year.
- If you have a child at the school, you may want to introduce yourself and explain why the Tick the Box campaign is important to you.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know which school you have contacted.
- If you'd like any more information or support, call us on 020 7620 6424 or email email@example.com.
The Fostering Network’s Tick the Box campaign was developed in conjunction with the University of Ulster and the Health and Social Care Board in Northern Ireland. Read their new publication Pathways to Further and Higher Education for Looked After and Care Experienced Young People.
The Fostering Network Wales has also produced A Foster Carer’s Guide to Inspiring and Supporting Care Leavers to Higher Education, which provides practical information and guidance including choosing the right course and the UCAS application process, as well as financial, emotional and general support. It also outlines the care leaver support available from each university in Wales. You can download the guide for free. This guide is also available in Welsh.