Cardiff and Care Leavers15 January 2015
Cardiff and Care Leavers
Cardiff University’s commitment to recruiting the brightest and best students from all sections of society with a particular focus on underrepresented groups is outlined in The Way Forward 2012-17 Strategy.
The University recognises the particular need to support students from underrepresented groups throughout the student lifecycle to ensure they succeed. Continuing to build on the established track record in widening access for people from Wales and beyond, Cardiff already has an impressive record in improving access for, and retaining, young people with a background in care:
- Care leavers are one of the most under-represented groups in higher education.
- In 2011, only 7% of care leavers in Wales aged 19 were in full time higher education compared to to 43% of all young people.
- In 2007, Cardiff became the first university in Wales to gain a Quality Mark from Children and Young People’s support charity Buttle UK. The Quality Mark was awarded for support provided for looked after children and people leaving care so they can progress into higher education.
- In 2014, the University’s work with care leavers was given exemplary status by the Charity.
- Cardiff University continues to innovate in this area, and in 2015/16 has 30 confirmed care leavers enrolled.
- The University has a dedicated member of staff who acts as a first point of contact for care-leavers; a service which extends to Foster Carers and Social Workers/Personal Advisers. This support begins at the application stage and is there throughout a student’s time with us.
- Cardiff University offers year-round accommodation to students who have been in care, and our Care Leaver Bursary scheme offers additional staggered financial support designed to assist with costs associated with both starting and leaving university, including Graduation, travel and clothes for interviews.
- In 2012/13, support was expanded to young people who are estranged from their families. These young people can face particular challenges in accessing student finance, posing a very particular problem for accessing Higher Education.
Partnership is a critical factor in our success
- Cardiff University was instrumental in working with other universities to establish the Care Leavers Activities and Student Support (CLASS) Cymru Network. The network meets regularly to work collaboratively to address the needs of looked after children and care leavers entering further and higher education, identifying potential barriers facing these students, and sharing good practice.
- In 2012, Cardiff staff assisted Fostering Network Wales in developing a toolkit for foster carers to support them in helping young people in their care make decisions about going to university.
- All of these efforts are undertaken in conversation with the University’s students, whose voice is heard at all levels.
Making the transition to university can be a big step, especially for those leaving care. To make this easier the University’s support for care leavers and Looked after Children includes a contact programme to provide potential applicants with a taste of student life:
- The Confident Futures Project allows 15-19-year-olds come together on campus to meet with current students who act as mentors, and to participate in a range of social trips, game nights, and workshops to support studies and applications for college, university and jobs.
- The Confident Futures Summer School is a two-day event including an overnight stay in halls of residence, where young people are paired with students to experience everything from getting to know the campus, to shopping for and cooking dinner in student accommodation.
Acknowledging that students’ needs are diverse, the University’s Student Support Service aims to ensure that whatever barriers students may face between applying and graduating are minimised. The nature and extent of this support will continue to evolve to meet new challenges and our ongoing mission to widen access to and participation in higher education to students from all backgrounds.
To learn more about Cardiff University’s Student Support Service, please visit http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/studentsupport/ and http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/advice/careleavers/care-leavers.html. More information on other Widening Access can be found here.
Updated December 2015.