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Katie, care leaver studying Law

Katie grew up in North Devon and didn’t go into care until she was a teenager.

“I had the same group of friends and stayed at the same school, life was fairly similar to what it was before. I felt different and that was probably my biggest issue, as my life at home was fundamentally different to what my friends’ life was. However it’s life and you live with what you’ve got,” she said.

At school she had a supportive group of teachers who helped her to make the most of her education despite having no self-belief.

“School was difficult, it was a safe place but I didn’t like it, I had very little self-belief and didn’t believe I could achieve anything at all and acted like I didn’t care. I did have a very good group of staff who encouraged and supported me personally and academically and I came out of school with every GCSE,” she said.

Katie never considered University as an option but went to college and completed it despite being taken off her second year of A levels by a lecturer who said as a cared for child she would fail the course.

“That was a blow for me but I did an access course which got me to the University of Exeter which is the best decision I have made, so there is always other ways around things,” she said.

Arriving at university Katie was given a case worker who answered all her questions about finance and accommodation including student loans and summer accommodation.

“My support from the University of Exeter has been really valued. They gave me a case worker before I arrived and this person helped ease the transition to university, which I found very isolating. They answered all my questions about finances, including the tuition fee waiver - which recognises our struggle and lets us do a degree for free. There are so many things that they do and giving us someone to listen to those and find a way through has been really great,” said Katie.

In terms of improving social mobility, Katie believes the university could share more knowledge of minority groups in general, as for example children in care are one of the worst achieving minority groups in the education system.

“Having a better knowledge and understanding and some champions around the university who can talk about these issues and make it known will automatically encourage systems to change and be more approachable,” she commented.