Improving university access for care leavers


A new online resource has been created to help care leavers to go into higher education.

Care leavers are around six times less likely than other young people to attend university or take part in a higher education course at college. The charity The Who Cares? Trust has created the resource to provide information about UK educational institutions’ pastoral and financial provision for care leavers, as well as inspirational stories from care-experienced students who have successfully made the transition from care to higher education.

The charity hopes the new website, Propel, will encourage young people in care to aim high and make the choice that is right for them.

New government figures show that in 2015, of 8,600 care leavers in England aged 19, just 470 (one in 20) were in higher education. By contrast, around two in five of all 18- and 19-year-olds enter higher education. Despite UCAS reporting a record number of applicants to higher education courses, along with claims of success for widening participation initiatives from both universities and the regulator, the proportion of care leavers who enter higher education has remained static since 2009.

The Trust says that educational outcomes for looked-after children remain lower than those of the general population because of a complex range of factors, including pre-care experiences such as maltreatment and neglect. Educational achievement can be negatively affected by disruption to schooling and trauma caused by multiple placement moves while in care, although research has shown that the longer a young person remains in the care system, the more likely they are to achieve. This means that being in care can have a positive impact on educational achievement; stability and quality of placements, and the aspirations of social care professionals, carers and teachers for the young people they support, are key to raising both young people’s ambition and achievement.

The online resource can be found at:

SEN News Team
Author: SEN News Team

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