Bishop Grossteste University uses the term ‘care experienced’ in recognition that care experienced students are vastly under-represented and more likely to enter higher education via a non-traditional route. This definition widens the legal definition of a care leaver as it is not limited by age, or by the time a person has spent in care.
Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) has links with the local Barnardos Leaving Care Service in order to provide outreach services to looked after children in the Lincolnshire area and to help encourage aspirations towards Higher Education. A member of the Student Advice team coordinating this outreach activity is a former member of the Barnardos team and their experience of working with young people in care is a valuable asset in delivering effective 1:1 support as a named contact to individuals aspiring to Higher Education.
BGU provides outreach opportunities to assist transitions into Higher Education (its First Steps 2 Study and Next Steps 4 Study programmes are offered in partnership with a network of local schools) and links are in place with Lincolnshire’s Virtual School for looked after children.
Both the Student Advice, and Admissions teams within the University are members of the NNECL network, and regularly attend regional meetings and annual conferences.
The BGU Admissions team makes contextual offers available to care experienced applicants, in order to both encourage entry onto their programme of study, and take the pressure off final results.
BGU is committed to making 365 day accommodation available to care experienced students. A number of options are available, offering en suite, or non- en suite Halls of Residence, or private housing (by arrangement with local landlords).
A BGU guarantor scheme is available whereby the University will act as guarantor for care experienced students, should this be a requirement of the property in which they plan to live. Assistance with securing accommodation is available from the BGU Accommodation Office.
Care experienced students will receive a welcome pack (including bedding, and store cupboard staples) together with a welcome letter from the Vice Chancellor.
Student Support Services
BGU offers a free, independent Counselling Service (with no waiting list to date) using a local counselling practice with a team of 15 counsellors – each with their own specialisms/experience. We also offer a 24/7 telephone service hosted by Endsleigh’s Wellbeing service. The University’s Student Advice service, Students’ Union and Centre for Enhancement in Learning and Teaching work together on a number of wellbeing focused events each year.
BGU has a long-established Enhanced Bursary for care experienced students, worth £3,600 per year. The Bursary is non-repayable. A letter from the student’s leaving care service (or similar) is sufficient for the bursary to be allocated.
In addition to the Enhanced Bursary, BGU has also introduced the Leaving Care Scholarship. The Leaving Care Scholarship in in the form of a fee waiver for the the final year of study on an undergraduate course (e.g. £9,250 on a BA/BSc Hons programme). 20 scholarships are available annually and can be awarded once a student makes a firm acceptance of their offer of a place.
The Student Advice team is highly experienced in advising students on applying for, and their entitlement to student finance. The service will contact student finance services directly to assist students, if required.
Financial assistance is also available with the costs of Graduation (gown, photograph, meal, and Graduation Ball ticket)
Information on website – URL; available via Propel
Information about the Leaving Care Scholarship is available at: www.bishopg.ac.uk/apply-now/fees-funding/scholarships
Further information about our package of support is available at: www.bishopg.ac.uk/document-download/44815
And further information is also available on the Propel website: propel.org.uk/Details/bishop-grosseteste-university-lincoln
Careers, Employability and Enterprise
BG Futures (Careers, Employability and Enterprise at BGU) is keen to further develop services for care experienced students.
BG Futures are in the process of developing targeted leaflets which will include our offer to care experienced students:
- a one to one appointment during their first semester
- support to look for part-time work at University
- awareness of supported programmes such as the Graduate Skills Builder which provide students with opportunities to gain project work experience in the labour market alongside gaining a bursary
- We will ensure that our care experienced students are supported after they leave and that they are aware of initiatives such as the Cathedrals Fund Grant Programme, should they need support into further learning or employment.
BGU has a long history of supporting students form care since developing its support package for the Buttle UK Quality Mark. The University shares the aims of the recently published 12by24 report (Commission for Social Justice/First Star) and plans to sign up to the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers Quality Mark once it is launched.
BGU’s commitment to improving access and outcomes for care leavers in HE is reflected in its current Office for Students Access and Participation Plan – with challenging targets to increase participation and improve outcomes for care leavers over the next five years. The Access Plan is subject to annual review and targets and milestones associated with care leavers are included in the monitoring process.
BGU is first and foremost a community focused university with strong ties to local schools due to its long history of providing Initial Teacher Education. BGU has a strong ‘widening participation’ ethos and many of its students are from widening participation backgrounds.
BGU is keen to explore how, within our organization, we could further respond to this aspect of the Covenant. We plan to set up a working group which will include key members of staff and students. BGU will also link with the local authority to understand the local need and how the university could respond.