Coventry University supports the principles of the Care Leaver Covenant, which are:
- That all parts of society have a responsibility to help Care leavers to avoid poor outcomes and make a successful transition to adulthood;
- That action to support Care leavers* should be in their best interests, promote their health and well-being and secure the best possible outcomes for them.
*Coventry University uses the following broad definition of Care leaver: ‘a young person who has spent a minimum of 13 weeks in Local Authority care since the age of 14 and on their 16th birthday’. Note that additional eligibility criteria for our care leaver bursaries, scholarships and programmes vary.
Coventry University will demonstrate its commitment to the Care Leaver Covenant through the following actions:
- The university works with Coventry and Warwickshire Local Authorities and Virtual Schools networks to deliver a bespoke programme, UNity, aimed at pupils in years 10-13. UNity is an extension to our UniversityGo! Programme which targets a younger age group. Both are designed to support a better understanding of pathways to Higher Education (HE), and to encourage young people who are care experienced to consider HE as an option for them. The UNity programme includes a residential to our Scarborough campus which is designed to help Care leavers to picture what student life could be like, and give them an opportunity to meet academics and current students.
- Working with partners, such as UniConnect (previously known as the National Collaborative Outreach Programme), other HE providers, and Local Authority Virtual Schools to target and select pupils in years 7-9; offering the opportunity to participate in a bespoke programme of outreach activities for Looked After Children designed to raise aspirations and awareness of Higher Education. Working with the Virtual schools to extend this programme to include Looked After Children in years 10-13, with the aim of developing and supporting their aspirations to continue into Higher Education.
- Providing a named contact in our Student Support Services team who can provide information, advice and support on all aspects of student life to care-experienced students who are considering, or currently studying at, the University.
- We are developing protocols and processes to support contextualised admissions for Care leavers. This means we are planning to use information identified throughout the UCAS application form to inform potential offers we make to care leavers applying to study at Coventry University.
- Offering bespoke student-led tours to Care leavers who are interested in studying at Coventry University. The tours include meetings with tutors and admissions specialists.
- Supporting the transition of Care leavers into university and encouraging a sense of belonging by inviting new students who are Care leavers to participate in a bespoke Welcome event prior to the start of term.
- We provide a limited number of bursaries for University-owned accommodation to Care leavers meeting specific eligibility criteria under a new accommodation scheme. Terms and conditions apply and can be viewed along with full details of the scheme here: Care leavers terms and conditions.
- We also provide access to 52-week accommodation if required, with pastoral support available via the Halls Officer on site.
- Providing access to appropriate careers and work-related advice and guidance through Coventry University Talent Team services, including support in applying to University internships and specific activities to prepare students for the world of work or further study, post-graduation.
- Partnering with external organisations to offer bursaries and opportunities (terms and conditions apply) for our care experienced students including free enrolment onto our Global Leaders Programme with financial support for associated international trips, and tailored financial management workshops.
- Continuing to work with a range of key stakeholders and organisations, including dedicated national and local networks such as the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers, the West Midlands Care Leaver Network, Local Authorities, schools and colleges, other Higher Education Institutions, businesses and the voluntary sector to identify and develop opportunities to engage effectively with care experienced young people and their supporters.
- Supporting our Students Union in establishing a community for Care leavers at the University, enabling them to engage directly with Care leavers, providing opportunities to experience new things to enrich their university life and experiences.
- Raising awareness of the needs of Care experienced students amongst current staff and students and offering Care leavers opportunities to feedback and help develop the University’s support for Care leavers, including focus groups to inform the development of our services.
- Leading research activity into the ‘lived experience’ of Care leavers at Coventry University and other Higher Education Institutions, making public our findings to support knowledge exchange.
- We include in the first module of our Post Graduate Certificate Academic Practice in Higher Education teaching qualification (PG Cert APHE) information to support new academic staff and those supporting teaching and learning (for example Employment Personal Tutors and librarians) in understanding the experiences and potential barriers faced by Care leavers. Participants are introduced to this topic in relation to diversity and inclusivity to help explore how their individual teaching and learning practice might impact/support students.
- We encourage professional services staff to engage with conferences and training in order to maintain best practice in relation to support for Care leavers. We subscribe to the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL).
Coventry University is committed to supporting Care leavers throughout the whole institution and will continue to develop our work under the three pillars of the Care Leaver Covenant.
A working group with representation from across the University including Student Support Services, Coventry University Recruitment and Admissions, and the Talent Team has developed our pillars. We also invited the Students’ Union to join the working group. Our working group will aim to review and update this offer by 30 April 2021.
2. A Robust Employment Offer
Coventry University is committed to ensuring that all students are supported to succeed on their chosen course of study and are successful in progressing to graduate level employment. We work with current students, including Care leavers, to develop and promote the opportunities we provide.
We publish a monthly Diversity newsletter. This signposts jobs and internships aimed at students from a range of diverse backgrounds, including Care leavers.
Coventry University is committed to preparing students who are work-ready and have a global outlook. As such we support all students to undertake international field trips during their course of study. For students in receipt of a full maintenance loan from Student Finance England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland we offer top-up travel grants of £100 for 5-day field trips, and £500 for longer trips. We also provide personalised support for Care leavers applying for additional Erasmus funding via the British Council for study/work abroad.
We offer all students the opportunity to undertake paid employment as student ambassadors and mentors, supporting our outreach programmes and campus-based activity such as Open Days. We actively encourage Care leavers to apply to the scheme.
The Student Engagement Programme is a significant programme of work, involving colleagues from across the Coventry University Group, working with a team of external consultants re-designing our Customer Relationship Management processes.This will impact across all areas of the student lifecycle, from pre-application through to Alumni. Through the programme we offer paid work experience opportunities for Care leavers and students from other disadvantaged communities to develop both employability skills, and to provide insights to inform the development work.
Coventry University Social Enterprise is a subsidiary of the University promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship. We support Care leavers to engage with this activity via the Launch programme, which offers termly events, group training and 121 coaching support to inspire students to start businesses or explore being an entrepreneur.
Coventry University is committed to supporting Care leavers throughout the whole institution and will continue to develop our work under the three pillars of the Care Leaver Covenant. Our working group will aim to review and update this offer by 30 April 2021.
Coventry University has created networks and communities across the University, designed to strengthen support for, and raise awareness of the barriers that may be experienced by under-represented groups. The Independent Learners Community is a student-led group which raises awareness of, and represents the interests of independent students including Care experienced and estranged students.
Care leavers are a priority group within the Coventry University Group Access and Participation Plan. We are currently conducting research into the experience of Care leavers at Coventry University and intend that the outcomes of the research should inform the on-going development of the support we offer to students who are care experienced.
In November 2019 we hosted a Round Table event attended by over 50 delegates from external organisations with an interest in supporting students who are Care leavers. The aim of the event was to share understanding of the support that is available across a range of organisations, and to share ideas, through discussion, about how we could join up to better support Care leavers into Higher Education. Along with four students from our own Care leaver community, organisations represented included the Office for Students, the DfE, NNECL, Local Authority Representatives and researchers form other HEIs.
These measures are intended to bolster the support Coventry University offers to young people with experience of being in the care system, both through partnership working and through practical operational delivery.
Coventry University is committed to supporting Care leavers throughout the whole institution. We will continue to develop our work under the three pillars of the Care Leaver Covenant. Our working group will aim to review and update this offer by 30 April 2021.