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York unveils support package to help students who have been in care

Posted on 28 October 2019

The University of York is to provide a year’s free accommodation to a limited number of students who have been in care and are currently studying at the institution.

The package, which is being trialled for the academic year 2019/20, will be evaluated with a view to rolling it out for a further five years to include more students who have been in care and want to study at York.

The support package is believed to be among the most comprehensive in the HE sector and coincides with National Care Leavers’ Week.

Other measures at York include:

  • Financial support with bursaries of up to £9,000 over the course of a three year degree
  • Extra support to access year abroad and year in industry placements
  • Help arranging and paying for secure storage of belongings during these year abroad and year in industry placements
  • Welcome packs for all care leavers moving into halls including kitchen and bedding packs, and free access to on campus freshers events
  • The provision of contextual offers for care leavers who apply to York

Key priority

Care leavers are cited as one of five key priority groups by the Office for Students, yet the participation rate for care leavers in higher education is considerably lower than it is for other socio-economically disadvantaged students.

Figures show that only 6% of care experienced 19 year olds are engaged in higher education.

Despite the efforts made by HE providers and local authorities, the participation rate has not improved over the last 10 years.

Thrive and succeed

Matt Beswick, Widening Participation Officer at York, said: " The University of York is proud to support young people and to recognise their potential and value they bring to the University community. The Widening Participation team are committed to supporting care experienced students to thrive and succeed in higher education.

“Our financial package and our supportive community demonstrate the University of York’s commitment in valuing and supporting care experienced students." 

Statement of commitment

Chris Hoyle, who helped set up the care package and who graduated from York after experiencing care himself, said: “Care leavers are some of the most vulnerable young people in society yet they have huge potential and so much to offer.

 “York has always been a welcoming place to come and study, but we want to go further and do more. That is why we are adopting in the full the principles set out in the recent DfE guidance regarding care leavers.

“Our package of measures is a real statement of commitment and support to young people who have been in care.”

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