UCAS have launched their report on the experiences of care experienced students who have applied to college or university, including information on levels of support, aspirations and the application process.

The report has been written in partnership with the Unite Foundation, and with support from NNECL. 

Key findings from the report include:

  • Access to specific guidance about going to HE as a care-experienced student is inconsistent: 60% stated they received no guidance specific to being care experienced during their application journey. Applicants also seek advice from a wide variety of sources with varying degrees of knowledge of specific support available.
  • Higher Education choices are strongly influenced by applicants’ individual support needs: over three quarters prioritised access to mental health and wellbeing support, with financial support, accommodation, and pre-entry support also important influential factors.
  • The intersectionality of care experience with other personal characteristics presents additional challenges. : these applicants are 38% more likely than non-care-experienced applicants to come from the most disadvantaged areas (POLAR4 Quintile 1), twice as likely to be from Mixed or Black ethnic groups, 79% more likely to identify as LGBT+, almost twice as likely to share a disability, and nearly three times as likely to share a mental health condition.
  • Applicants from a care background are motivated by career prospects, especially in health and
    social care: they are 179% more likely to apply for health and social care than non-care-experienced
    students, and 50% more likely to apply for nursing and midwifery.

Whilst this report is based on UK-wide insights, findings that are particularly relevant to Scotland include:

  • Inconsistent knowledge of the minimum entry requirements: Only 34% of respondents in Scotland stated that they knew about the minimum entry requirements for care experienced students.
  • 24% of Scottish applicants shared their care background because they knew they were eligible for the guaranteed offer and wanted the university to take this into account.

As a result of these findings, UCAS has made several recommendations aimed at improving the journey to higher education for students from a care background. These include:

  • Broader engagement with those directly advising care-experienced students.
  • The provision of verified care leaver data.

We will raise these issues in our Care Leavers into Employment, Education and Training focus group and in our Cross Party Group on Care Leaver discussions. 

Download full report