Ben Jordan is the Senior Policy Executive at UCAS. Here he writes about why you’re asked whether you’re a care leaver on your application to university, and where you can find support if you have been in care.
“We aim to help people make informed choices that best suit their aspirations and abilities, and give them the best opportunity to succeed. We provide information and advice to around 670,000 university applicants each year, and of those there are people with a range of individual needs, including care leavers.
We know that there are a number of challenges faced by care leavers when progressing to university or college, so offering the chance to state whether you’re a care leaver on your application helps universities and colleges to offer support in a number of ways.
Asking the question
To begin with, the question we ask in the personal details section is; ‘Have you ever been in care?’ If you respond ‘Yes’, we’ll ask how long you’ve been in care for. We’ve avoided using the statutory definition of a care leaver because we feel that by leaving it open we’re able to help all those who may need support. The question acts as a flag to universities and colleges, letting them know you have personal circumstances that may require extra support while you’re studying. They will often contact you to discuss the type of support you may need after they receive your application.
You also have the opportunity to provide information about your situation in the personal statement section of your application, although you can send details to the university or colleges separately if you prefer.
From 2015, we have updated the help text in our applications for the ‘in care’ question to make it as clear as possible why you’re being asked, and to explain how universities and colleges may use this information.
If you’re a care leaver or you’re helping someone who is, you’ll find lots of information and advice on our website to help you get support.
- Information about the type of support offered by universities and colleges.
- Details of the financial support available to care leavers.
- Links to organisations that can offer further information, such as Propel and The Who Cares? Trust, as well as a link to the Who Cares? Trust HE handbook.
- A list of universities and colleges that have the quality mark for care leavers.