At University Centre Leeds we want everyone who wants to do a degree to be able to and are committed to helping care leavers access higher education.

We understand that young people leaving the care system may face challenges and may have very different concerns about starting a degree than other students. We are committed to improving care leavers’ choices and are here to help care leavers through application, finance, accommodation, enrolment and right through the course.


What do we mean by care experience?

This is where we can evidence that you are covered by the following UCAS definition of care experience:

Being care experienced means you will have spent time living with foster carers under local authority care, in residential care (e.g. a children’s home), looked after at home under a supervision order, or in kinship care with relatives or friends, either officially (e.g. a special guardianship order) or informally without local authority support*. ​

Kinship care – family or friends care – is where a child lives full-time or most of the time with a relative or close family friend, usually because their parents are not able to care for them. You can find out more here:

*Please be aware that informal kinship care can be very difficult to evidence, but we would like to try to consider your circumstances where possible. You may be able to evidence this through something such as a:

A letter from a local authority social worker (this could include a copy of a completed IC1 form claiming support for a child informally living with a carer, signed by a registered social worker)

A letter from a school/college or other education setting, or other relevant professional, who can evidence your situation.

Any evidence of relevant benefits paid to your carer (e.g. child benefit being claimed by someone other than your birth parents [as listed on your birth certificate], Guardian’s Allowance).

What support is available at University Centre Leeds?

To help you make informed decisions about your higher education and degree choices, we can offer:

  • Personalised tours;
  • Foster Family / Care Experienced Taster Days;
  • 1:1 Application support;
  • Contextual admissions.

To help support new students leaving care to start full time higher education at University Centre Leeds, we offer the following financial support:

  • Care Leavers Bursary (up to £1000 awarded by University Centre Leeds);
  • Supporting the cost of interview travel and/or on-course materials (where applicable – up to 50% of costs);
  • Supporting the cost of graduation gown hire and photographs (up to 50% of costs).
  • University Centre Leeds can act as a guarantor for your student accommodation agreements.

Other support offered to care leavers include:

  • Nominated care leavers support from the University Centre Leeds HE Welfare and Student Engagement Officer and /or a Named contact from within the Safeguarding Team;
  • Buddying and/or mentoring schemes;
  • HE Counselling and Mental Health Officer.

For more information on the financial support available for care leavers please visit our dedicated page. If you would like to discuss your concerns further, please contact our Admissions Team at

Care Experienced and
Estranged Students' Guide

Did you know?

The local authority’s responsibility to Care Leavers extends until they reach the age of 21 (or 24 where the Local Authority is involved in supporting them in Higher Education or training).

Care leavers may be able to access support, set out in a Pathway Plan, including:

  • provision of a social worker or a personal adviser;
  • financial assistance;
  • help with accommodation;
  • benefits and budgeting advice;
  • help to develop independent skills;
  • support with education (including further education);
  • employment and training; and
  • support to access health services.

We also feature on:

We have recently been awarded the NNECL Quality mark, an accreditation which demonstrates our support for care experienced students. Learn more.


What is available in Leeds for Care Leavers?

There is Local Authority financial support available including paying towards accommodation and living costs.

Please go to for more information or contact Leeds City Council on 0113 378 9988 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or at

In Leeds there is a range of services for care leavers provided by the local authority, health and third sector agencies. These include:

  • Pathway Planning 13+ and co-ordination of support – within the Looked After Children Service there are teams who work with young people over the age of 13. When the young person is 16, social workers in the team support them to develop the pathway plan; from age 18, personal advisers are allocated to support the young person into adulthood and to ensure the pathway plan is carried forward. Key aspects of the role is to ensure care leavers are living in suitable accommodation, engaged in education, employment or training and they keep in regular contact.

  • Accommodation – Care Leavers who have been living in fostering placements now have increased access to ‘Staying Put’ arrangements where they stay living with their foster carer following their 18th birthday. There is also an accommodation hub to ensure that the range of accommodation available is used effectively to meet the care leaver’s needs. This includes trainer flats with floating support or non-supported tenancies. 

  • Education, Employment and Training – care leavers have targeted Information, Advice and Guidance to support them to access an offer that is right for them. As a city, Leeds is aiming to achieve the Care2Work quality mark which recognises best practice and is awarded to local authorities and employers who demonstrate their commitment to building the employability skills of children in care and care leavers. It covers areas such as traineeships, apprenticeships, jobs within the council, access to Further Education and Higher Education and volunteering.

  • Health – health providers work in partnership with care leavers and with their social workers, personal advisers and other practitioners working with them, to ensure they access the right health services to meet their needs.

  • Financial advice – a dedicated welfare rights worker supports care leavers to identify and access their entitlements for 18-25 year olds and work with other practitioners to support their knowledge and understanding.