Young people in care and care leavers

Young people in care and care leavers

The University is committed to supporting young people in care and care leavers to realise their full potential through higher education study. We are delighted to have been holders of the Buttle Quality Mark for Care Leavers from 2011-2014 and we continue to work with young people, carers, foster families, social services, virtual schools and other organisations to support progression to the University.

During our Admissions processes we recognise the impact that being in care can have on a student’s attainment and this may be taken into account when we are considering your application. This might mean that you are made an offer at the lower end of the grade range, or you may be made an ‘aspirational’ offer if your predicted grades aren’t quite in line with our expected levels. In addition, some GCSE requirements may be waived.

Care Leaver Travel Bursary

As a care leaver you will be entitled to a travel bursary of a maximum of £150.00 to cover the costs of travelling to attend either an interview or an Offer Holder Visit Day. The bursary can be used to reimburse travel expenses only and cannot be paid as a cash alternative or be used towards any other expenses incurred as a part of attending an interview or Offer Holder Visit Day. Receipts are required for reimbursement - unfortunately we will not be able to reimburse travel claims without these. Travel claims will be paid for the student only and overnight accommodation costs will not be paid for unless advised otherwise. Fuel claims will be paid at a standard mileage rate.

IMPORTANT - Claims will only be paid where accompanied by receipts, with the exception of fuel claims for which a standard mileage rate will be paid. For all mileage claims the first 100 miles of any round trip will be paid at the rate of 45p per mile and the remaining miles will be at 25p per mile.

In order to claim your travel costs back you will need to complete a Travel expenses claim form and return it to the following address along with receipts for your travel:

FAO Natalie Bracher
Student Recruitment Office
University of Exeter
Hope Hall
Prince of Wales Road

Please allow approximately 4 - 6 weeks for each claim to be processed. Claimants do not need to complete the part of the form below the claimant signature section as this is for office use only.

If you have any questions regarding the travel bursary then please contact Natalie Bracher via our online form.

Funding for Care Leavers

The University of Exeter offers financial support to students who have been in care in the form of a full fee waiver for UK undergraduates and PGCE students, and a Care Leavers’ Bursary.

For the purposes of these schemes, the University of Exeter follows the definition of Care Leaver used in the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000. This is ‘someone who has been in the care of the Local Authority for a period of 13 weeks or more spanning their 16th birthday'.

Fee Waiver

Care Leavers starting undergraduate or PGCE courses at the University of Exeter will not have to pay tuition fees. If you have identified yourself as someone who has been in care in your UCAS application, the University of Exeter will contact you asking for further information. You will be asked to show that you meet the criteria described above. You must also be UK or EU fee status, for more information on your status please see the UKCISA website.

Care Leavers’ Bursary

  • To be eligible you will need to meet the following criteria:
  • You are a care leaver (see definition above)
  • You must have started your studies in September 2012 or later
  • You must be under 25 when you start your course
  • You must be in receipt of financial support from the university through the Exeter National Scholarship or Access to Exeter Bursary schemes

The bursary is intended to help with the cost of accommodation during the summer vacation period after your first and subsequent years of study (but not final year). The bursary amount is not fixed, but is decided by taking into account the additional cost of your accommodation needs.

To apply for this bursary, please contact the Students’ Guild Advice Unit.

If you indicate on your UCAS form that you are a Care Leaver, you will be contacted for further information to help us establish if you meet the criteria for Care Leavers as defined in the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000. We will also make sure that you are aware of the financial and pastoral support that we offer to Care Leavers.

Care leavers are usually classified as independent students and would therefore qualify for the maximum levels of government and institutional financial support. Although our package of financial support is subject to change from year to year, Care Leavers have been entitled to a full fee waiver for all years of study since 2012, as well as generous bursary support.

If you do not meet the eligibility criteria to be considered a Care Leaver as defined in the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 you may not be eligible for the full financial support package but you will still be offered pastoral support if you have particular needs or concerns.


We understand that you may require additional information to help you to make your accommodation choices and we are happy to discuss individual requirements. For care leavers in the local area who are holding an offer from the University of Exeter, a support meeting will be arranged to discuss your accommodation options. Once your accommodation needs have been established, the University’s named contact for care leavers will liaise with the Accommodation Office to try and secure appropriate accommodation, including 365 day accommodation should this be required.

Unite Foundation Scholarship Scheme

The University is proud to be in partnership with the Unite Foundation. The Unite Foundation is a charitable trust, which focuses on enabling young people under the age of 25 to make the most of educational opportunity. The Unite Foundation offers generous scholarships for care leavers and/or estranged students. Each Scholar currently receives free accommodation for three years within a Unite student building. The award is also complemented by access to activities and opportunities that support Scholar employability. Scholarships are awarded annually with 2018/19 applications being accepted from January until May 2018.

To download an application form visit the Unite Foundation website.

Once the form is completed please send to to be checked and forwarded to the Unite Foundation before the June deadline.

Peer to peer support

Once you are at Exeter you will have the opportunity, if you wish, to attend the Care Leavers support group who meet regularly. At these meetings, you will have the opportunity to talk about your experiences at University. Guest speakers from across the university are often invited to these meetings to talk about support available and how to access this support.

Information about these sources of funding is available on our finance pages.

Independent advice on funding is available from the Students’ Guild Advice Unit.

The University has strong links with local authorities in the South West and with the Devon Virtual School and The Hope, Bristol's Virtual School for Children in Care, in particular. On our Penryn Campus in Cornwall our staff work closely with colleagues at Falmouth University and the Cornwall 16+ team.

We organise events each year specifically to bring young people in care, care leavers, social workers and carers onto the University campus to experience what being at a university might be like. There is also an excellent link between the University’s Drama department and the Devon Leaving Care Team which has resulted in a number of projects over the last few years.

In addition, young people in care are a target group for all of our widening participation activities and, in particular are welcome onto our two flagship outreach programmes – Exeter Progression and Realising Opportunities.

Michael from Plymouth spent 15 years in care being brought up by foster parents.

From an early age he wanted to go to University and valued getting an education, although he believes children in care have to battle a lot of stigma.

“A lot of people think as a child in care you can’t aspire to very much. Not all children in care are encouraged to go into further education in the first place, schools and local authorities have a low expectation of us,” he said.

Challenges to going on to Higher Education include finances as children in care are seen as financially independent once they reach 18.

“Whilst we do have local authority support at times, sometimes it is just not there and you have to rely on the generosity of others. Children in care tend to come from very isolated backgrounds, so it is very rare we have a safety net which surrounds us,” said Michael.

Upon entering the University of Exeter, Michael found support in terms of finding accommodation and Care Leaver Summer Accommodation grant and financially with Hardship and Retention grant and Access to Exeter grants. Michael has also received support with mental health.

During his third year he was offered an interruption to allow him to have a break from studying.

“I was very tired and had been working hard. During that time I took on two internships and the university helped with financial support to facilitate them in terms of an access to internship bursary, it was really useful to my career and personally,” he said.

Overall Michael would recommend Exeter as a place to study for those who need additional support to get into higher education.

Michael, Law LLB

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

"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.

Katie, Law LLB



If you are considering higher education and need advice and guidance please contact us. 

For information about the support offered by the University:

Magdalena Katomeri
Welfare Team

For independent information and advice:

Dan Cosgrove
Student Adviser - The Guild