One of the findings of TVF research has been that young people need support to get information about higher education and careers. Like other students, care leavers need to feel welcome at university, and they need to have their needs met.

Since 2015, we have been working with academic and student support staff at Queen Mary, Goldsmiths, East London and Greenwich Universities to host residential workshops for care-experienced young people to have a taster of student life, and to build bridges across departments that will help to support the experience of care leaver students.

“I left school with no GCSEs. I got kicked out of school and I was arrested… When I was at university I was in a hostel for four years… there were a lot of fights, and a lot of gangs who came there just to chill. So while I’m studying there’d be music playing really loudly. I wasn’t able to knock on anyone’s door and say turn it down. The lead tenant in the hostel had a fight with another young person and I had to split it up. They broke a bottle and the blood from her head went on my coursework and I had to re-do the whole thing. I failed a lot of my units in first year… I didn’t disclose to them that I was in care. I just said that I was finding it hard. End of second year as part of my placement I was in Cornwall for a performance. Just as I was about to go on stage I got a call saying my brother had run away… Then I had to tell them I was a care leaver.”
Ashley, 24 years old, 2016

“Education in itself needs to be consistent. It’s the moving from school to school that makes it difficult to get those key and necessary grades that you need to go on to higher education. That’s really difficult. I think universities need to be more flexible with their criteria. There are various access schemes to higher education that do target care leavers which is brilliant. You need to look at the person and not their grades.”
Cathy, widening participation staff member in higher education

If you would like us to visit you, or advise you on supporting care leavers or other students who are dealing with living independently, please get in touch.

Excerpts from interviews with staff working in housing and bursaries departments:

Q: What does it make you want to change about the way you do work at QMUL?

A: “I think again, it’s like looking at an individual as an individual rather than it’s just an applicant.”
A: “More kindness I suppose to the young ones because you don’t know where they are coming from, what kind of background – you take it for granted I suppose when you come from a stable environment.”