Deciding to study at university is a big step for anybody. You will be entering a world of new opportunities, new friends and new ways of thinking. At the University of Birmingham, we offer the highest quality academic experience within a supportive environment. But if you are leaving care to come to university we believe that you deserve a little extra support to help you make the right choices, get the financial help and assistance you’re entitled to. Meaning you can settle in quickly to be able to focus on your studies and enjoy your student experience.
We have been working hard with our current care experienced students to create a support system which best reflects the requirements. We are a university committed to supporting all students who have had any experience of care and are proud to provide support to all the students who circumstances are reflected below.
We define a care leaver as a young person over the age of 16 who has been in care of the local authority and/or Health & Social Care Trust for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14.
We define a care experience student as an individual who has been in care at any stage in their life, no matter how short a period.
When making your application to any university, we strongly recommend that you tick the box on your UCAS application as this will help identify you to the relevant staff insuring, they send you information about the support they can offer.
The welcome I received from Birmingham was unlike anything I experienced applying to any other University. It made me feel like there really were good people out there, and they were at Birmingham. I cried when I found out I had a place here. I’d honestly never felt so valued and wanted before.
Support for care experienced students
- You will be given priority in choice of University accommodation (please ensure your accommodation application arrives ahead of the deadline) and do not have to pay the pre-payment of £550 to secure your accommodation as part of your online acceptance.
- Accommodation is available on a 52-week basis for the duration of your course. With social events throughout each holiday period should you wish to join.
- Complimentary welcome packages will be provided if you move into University owned accommodation, including bedding, saucepans and other useful products.
- If you’re looking to get a job whilst studying, you’ll receive a guaranteed interview for the role of Student Ambassadors within Student Recruitment and Outreach. This offers you regular work throughout the year which you can fit around your studies.
As a care leaver you are eligible for a contextual offer which is an entry offer normally one grade lower than the typical entry offer shown on our course pages or in our prospectus, but can differ depending on the subject you would like to study.
The Outreach team provides a variety of free events and activities, to help you while deciding what or where to study and gain an insight into university life. Care leavers are given priority allocation on all of our programmes including:
For students in the West Midlands
- A Year 12 subject based transitional programme – Routes to the Professions (R2P)
- A Year 12 summer school – Academic Enrichment Programme (AEP)
- A Year 13 transitional programme - Access to Birmingham (A2B)
For students outside the West Midlands
- A Year 12 summer school - National Access Summer School (NASS)
Students who successfully complete a Pathways to Birmingham programme and apply to the University of Birmingham will receive special consideration from admissions tutors. If their application is successful, they will receive two offers from the University of Birmingham - the standard offer and a Pathways to Birmingham offer. The Pathways to Birmingham offer is typically two grades below the standard offer, as advertised in the prospectus. Students may also be eligible to receive the Pathways to Birmingham financial support.
- You can attend our Care Leavers Open Day (during National Care Leavers Week) which is a smaller open day specifically designed for care experienced students. You can attend with a guest of your choice, to see our campus first-hand, meet the supporting staff face to face and hear from care experienced students currently studying at the University.
- Access our Skills4Uni online study skills resource. It is there to help you with your year 12 and 13 studies and preparation for university. From revision techniques and note-taking, to finding information or referencing styles.
- You can contact the single point of contact by emailing email@example.com for any support and guidance, including support with your personal statement, making arrangement to visit campus, or applying to Student Finance.
- You’ll automatically become a Birmingham Scholar and have access to enhanced support from the university’s careers and academic skills teams and access to Birmingham Scholars only job, study abroad and work experience opportunities.
- You can join the Care Experience focus group. A group of students from across all year groups who come together with the Outreach team to provide guidance on how we can improve what we do for care experienced students. This also gives students a great opportunity to meet and connect with other students who have shared similar experiences.
- You can attend our Pathways to Birmingham induction day before starting the main University Welcome Week (even if you didn’t complete a programme). This is an opportunity to meet other students who will also be starting at the University the following week.
- You can have regular contact from your college wellbeing officer who can provide practical and emotional support if you are experiencing personal problems, particularly when these might interfere with your academic work.
- We work closely with the Ree’s Foundation in creating lifelong support network and achieve your goals. They can offer you help and advice about any concerns and are always happy to listen.
Support for Care Leavers
As a Care Leaver you will receive everything listed in the above ‘Support for care experienced students’ section.
We also offer this additional support:
- The Enhanced Chamberlain Award is available to help you fund your accommodation. If you choose to live in University-owned halls, the award will cover the full cost of your accommodation. If you choose to live elsewhere, you can receive this award as a £3,000 cash bursary. (Care leavers who have subsequently been adopted would not normally be eligible for this award)
- We also offer the Care Leavers Scholarships, which are a cash bursary of £2,000 per academic year and £500 on graduation after successful completion of your programme. (A minimum of two scholarships are awarded each year)
Guidance for supporting staff
Navigating universities can be difficult, especially if its not something you do often. Here is more information to support you and we would always welcome any further questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s useful to know, definitions universities use to define a care leaver/ care experienced student will differ, so you will need to advise your applicant to check individual universities websites to find out more.
We would strongly encourage you advise them to tick the box on their UCAS application as this ensures universities contact them with information about the support they can offer.
If they are considering the University of Birmingham, we provide all care experienced applicants with a single point of contact in the Outreach Team and have a range of support available.
All our Outreach programmes prioritise places for care experience students, we would recommend our Pathways to Birmingham programmes for students in years 12 and 13.
You may also find the ‘Further support from other parties’ section useful.
We would welcome any visit requests from local authorises or supporting groups/charities. Please get in touch to make arrangements.
We also host a Care Experienced Open Day in October during National Care Leavers Week, where you and your applicants can visit the campus to get a feel for the support we offer.
The Wellbeing Officer(s), provide practical and emotional support for students at Birmingham and will be in regular contact with care leavers at Birmingham. If you are concerned for a care leaver, please get in contact with their Wellbeing Officer immediately.
You can also recommend students approach Student Support in the Aston Webb Student Hub or their Personal Academic Tutor.
The Wellbeing Officer(s) will provide practical and emotional support for students at Birmingham and will be in regular contact with care leavers at Birmingham.
We offer enhanced support to students who are care leavers or care experienced, bringing them in line with our U18 process.
Wellbeing Officers will:
- Act as the dedicated wellbeing contact for these students within their Schools, providing advice, support and guidance
- Contact the students at the start of each year and set up an introductory meeting
- Offer monthly appointments throughout term time (these are not mandatory for the student to attend)
- Take action if a student appears to have disengaged with wellbeing or the programme.
- Contact the student prior to the end of each term to discuss their plans over the holiday period and provide support details over this period
Students can also approach Student Support in the Aston Webb Student Hub or their Personal Academic Tutor.
Further Support from UoB which is good to know about
Advice and guidance from University accommodation Mentors. All our student mentors are fully trained and available to help you from the moment you know you’re coming to Birmingham, to when you move in and throughout your time with us.
- The university has other undergraduate funding bursaries available to enable students to undertake internships, work experience or overseas placements and Care Leavers are prioritised for all funding sources.
- The university has other bursaries available to enable students to undertake internships, work experience or overseas placements and care leavers are prioritised for all funding sources. Students who disclose on their UCAS form at the time of applying that they are in or have been in care will be reviewed for any relevant bursaries.
- All undergraduates have access to our award winning Careers Network to support you to plan for a successful career on graduation; access national-award-winning internships and placements in the UK and overseas.
Further Support from other parties which is good to know about
Download the Inspire Me! App for inspiring stories for care leavers by care leavers.
Propel is a website designed to provide support and information to care leavers who want to enter Higher Education.
Access Estranged and Care Experienced Students (EaCES) Handbook. A virtual guide written by estranged and care experienced students to bring together information and advice to help other students from the same background.
Check your Pathway Plan with your Leaving Care Worker. Some Local Authorities provide a one off £2000 Higher Education Bursary to care leavers who started their course before their 25th birthday and does not need to be repaid.
You can now search for support offered by individual Local Authorities at https://www.careleaveroffer.co.uk/
Current Student Contacts
We are working hard to provide a coordinated support system for care experienced students at the University which compliments the support we already deliver. Below are staff members you can turn to for support and guidance.
- Alice McGowan, your single point of contact for all pre-entry enquiries. Based in Beech House, email email@example.com.
- Leanne Campbell, your point of contact whilst studying. Based in Aston Webb, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Emily Owen, your Student Services contact. She can help you manage practical, emotional and psychological issues you may face during your studies. Based in Aston Webb Hub, email email@example.com.
- Alicia Burton, your accommodation contact. She can support you with any accommodation issues you may face. Based in University Centre, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Danny Mall, your Careers Network contact. He can provide support with UK and overseas internships and placements, CV writing and obtaining a job on campus. Based in the Arts Building, email email@example.com.
- Aaliayh Simms (Welfare and Community Officer) your Guild of Students contact. She can advise on what else you can do outside your academic study such as joining clubs or societies. Based in the Guild of Students, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- As a current student at the University of Birmingham, you also have access to urgent support.