As a prospective student, we want to help make your journey to York as smooth and exciting as possible.

Our dedicated Access and Outreach Team offer specific support, advice and guidance to care experienced and estranged students from before you apply to the University of York, to receiving your offer to study with us.

You will be able to gain access to further support if you make the decision to come and study with us at York. Find guidance on:

You are a 'care leaver' if you have been in the care of your local authority for at least 13 weeks since your 14th birthday, ending on or after your 16th birthday. The 13 weeks do not have to have been all in one go.

If you are unsure whether you have care leaver status, you can check with your leaving care team or personal adviser. Further guidance is available from Coram Voice

If you haven’t been assessed as a care leaver by Student Finance but think you meet the criteria, please contact us.

If you have care leaver status, you are also care experienced.

You are 'care experienced' if you have ever been in care, or are currently in care, even if you do not have 'care leaver' status. This care may have been provided in many different settings, including:

  • living with foster carers;
  • living in a residential children's home;
  • being looked after at home under a supervision order; or
  • living with friends or relatives in kinship care.

Care experienced people could have spent any length of time in care, at any age.

Estranged young people are those aged under 25 who are not communicating with either of their parents due to an irreconcilable breakdown in the relationship, with the situation likely to remain permanent.

The young person may be estranged and living independently before entering higher education or may become estranged during their studies.

Your journey to York

Making decisions about your future and whether university is right for you can be a challenge for any young person. For people who have experience of being in care, or are estranged from their family, it can be even more daunting and often feel like it is too far out of reach. Higher education could make a huge difference to your life in so many ways, and we are here to help you overcome any barriers you might be facing. We offer a wide range of support, from the first stage of thinking about your options, right up to applying, studying at university and beyond.

Vanessa Conman, Access and Outreach Manager

Support before you arrive

If you are a care experienced or estranged young person, we have various support options available to you when considering the university.

Achieve HE

Achieve HE is our dedicated programme for supporting care leavers, care experienced and estranged young people at the pre-entry stage. The programme is split up into three areas:

1. YorCare Package

As a care experienced or estranged young person, you will be able to access the following:

You will be able to access a VIP visit package, which includes free return travel, overnight accommodation on campus or nearby with breakfast included and lunch on campus with a member of our Access and Outreach team. This is offered for yourself and a guest, who can be a professional, friend or family member.

The VIP visit package is available to any care experienced or estranged young person who is planning to go to university in the next two years, and who would like to visit us here at the University of York. This could be for a planned Open Day, Interview Day or Visit Day, or at another point in the year to suit you.

Please note: 

  • After using our VIP Visit Package, you do not have to apply to the University of York.
  • You can only use the VIP Visit Package once (although you’re welcome to visit more than once of course!).
  • University of York offer holders are welcome to use the VIP visit package, up until the point you enrol as a student here.

Apply for a VIP visit package

You can access bespoke support and advice sessions covering general information about university, your options, student finance, and student support. Application and personal statement advice and guidance is also given in these sessions.

These sessions can be provided in person (in campus or in the community), over the phone or on video call. If you do choose to complete the session in person, on campus, we can also arrange a campus tour for you with a current university student (who will ideally also be a care experienced or estranged student).

 Arrange a pre-application support session

2. On Track programme

On Track is our dedicated outreach programme aimed at young people aged between 10-25, who have had experience of being in care. This is currently for young people who live in York and North Yorkshire. On Track is run in partnership with FutureHY and other local education partners.

3. National support

If you live outside of York and North Yorkshire, we have a programme of online activity to support you in thinking about your future. For further information, please get in touch with us at:

Your dedicated support advisor

If you do decide to study with us at the University of York, we will assign you a dedicated support advisor as a care experienced or estranged student.

They'll become a named contact who can help to support you from your application, right through to graduation.

Learn more about dedicated contacts

Having a dedicated contact for care leavers really made me feel warmly welcomed to the University. I believe that having this contact is a huge contributing factor as to why I love York. It means I have someone to talk to who is aware of the help I am entitled to and I don't have to explain my past for them to understand my point of view.

Current student

Alternative offers

As a care experienced or estranged student, you may be considered for a contextual offer of up to two grades below the standard offer. 

In order to be considered for a contextual offer, you'll need to complete the York Access Scheme form.

Find more information on alternative and contextual offers

Financial support

If you decide to choose the University of York for your studies, there may be a number of financial opportunities for you to explore. These include our:

We have number of travel financial awards available for students wishing to pursue organised and independent travel projects during their studies.

Other sources of financial support

Accommodation support

We offer related support for care leavers, care experienced and estranged students from flexible accommodation contracts to accommodation subsidies.

Explore our accommodation support


Are you a professional who supports care-experienced students or estranged young people? We send out a quarterly newsletter to keep partners at local authorities and other organisations up to date with our work in this area.

Sign up for our newsletter

Next steps

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Here for you

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