Durham University is a Partner of the North East Raising Aspiration Partnership (NERAP). NERAP is a long standing (established in 2011) collaboration of the five universities in the region (Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside) who fund pre-16 outreach activity where economies of scale and added value are gained through a collaborative approach. This activity focuses on joint representation visits to pre-16 schools highlighting the higher education opportunities in the region, and specific targeted work to support care-experienced students and young carers throughout their educational journey.
To ensure support for care-experienced students is sustained throughout their higher education journey, all five universities have signed up to the Care Leaver Covenant as a regional partnership via the existing NERAP Partnership. This means that students who choose to study at any of the university Partners will be guaranteed continued support to access, succeed and progress.
Durham University along with the other four Partner universities have committed (during 2022-23) to developing a level of support that is consistent at each institution. All care-experienced students get the same core access to interventions aligned to the Care Leaver Covenant core outcomes, complemented by additional bespoke support where offered within individual institutions.
As a Partnership, we have adopted the broader definition of ‘care-experienced,’ as this term is inclusive of the range of care settings someone may have experienced.
Our definition of care-experienced is someone who, at any stage of their life, and for any length of time, has been in care e.g., looked after by the local authority. This includes the following:
- spent time in the care of the local authority (e.g. foster care or children’s home)
- privately fostered
- ‘looked after at home’ under a supervision order
- in kinship foster care (where a friend or family member becomes the foster carer). Kinship care through a formal arrangement, recognised by a Local Authority, and could be prior to a Special Guardianship Order.
Pre – Entry Support
- Choices Together Progressive programme from Year 7-13.
- Accompany students to any open days, interviews etc. Cover expenses for getting to and from campus and lunch where needed.
- Tailored UCAS and Student Finance application support.
- Offer advice and guidance and potential CPD sessions for student support workers, parents/carers, local authorities, and virtual schools around UCAS and Student Finance.
- Create a guide for staff supporting young people considering Higher Education using the NNECL guide for staff as a basis.
- Work with the five Partner universities to develop and maintain the core offer. Facilitate regular working group meetings and maintain a Teams group to allow easy communication.
- Provide a comprehensive virtual school/Local Authority contacts list and detail local offer for each area, all in one place. Ensure that this is regularly maintained and kept up to date.
- We have a named university contact who engages with the North East Care Leaver Covenant working group who has an underlying knowledge of care experienced students and is willing to continue to develop this.
- Our named point of contact for care experienced student support is part of a permanent staff role and they are supported to continue to develop their knowledge of care experienced students and their role in providing support.
- A dedicated comms plan to reach out directly to care experienced students to support their journey to university and throughout their studies.
- We are aiming to implement a self-declaration data capture form to ensure students only need to provide evidence once, whether that be pre-entry or post-entry. This will be sent to anyone who lets us know on their UCAS form they are care experienced.
- Opportunities will be available for students to visit campus and meet with the named contact, who can offer advice on a variety of areas such as applying to university, finance and accommodation. This could be during existing on campus activity, such as open days and POVDs or through an individual booking for a 1-2-1 meeting either online or in person.
- Care Experience is an eligibility criterion that is prioritised for all our access programmes (Supported Progression, STEP and Sutton Trust). Students who complete one of these programmes receive a guaranteed alternative offer for Durham University (usually two grades below the standard entry requirements).
- We are currently considering guaranteed contextual offers for Care Experienced students.
- Establish a functional team of staff, known as DU Cares, who will play key supporting roles throughout the Care Experienced student journey.
- Create a Microsoft Teams Chat for DU Cares colleagues to share best practise, knowledge sharing and support.
- We are working with our internal CRM/Campaigns team to develop a self-identification form for the webpage.
- We are building in bespoke comms to access programme applicants who identify as care experienced to sign post to support.
- We are working with our CRM/Campaigns team to create a form for students to book appointments with the designated contact. As part of this we are looking at campus visits.
Post – Entry Support
- Support with moving in, to include personal meet-and-greet at station/airport etc. and help with moving belongings where required.
- Provide a welcome pack on behalf of the Partner universities where required, to include basics such as £20 supermarket voucher and new home card with contact details.
- Explore with colleges providing option for early arrival.
- We are considering waiving college accommodation deposit.
- Increase ease of identifying which colleges offer year-round accommodation.
- We are considering any possible financial support or possibly waiving fees for any additional weeks beyond the standard term time let.
- Support student community to arrange possible social activities through vacation periods.
- We are considering feasibility of offering free summer storage facilities (and for any placements/year abroad)
- We are considering supporting students into private accommodation when they choose to ‘live out’ i.e. in second and/or third year. The University is currently partnering with a private Rent Guarantor Service and paying the fees.
- Establish a ‘homelessness protocol’ that aims to support students who are at risk of being made homeless throughout their time as a student at Durham.
- Work to establish long term funding to continue to offer a “moving in” bursary, currently £500, to support students with initial expenses such as household items, society fees etc.
- Finance and budgeting sessions as part of progressive programme.
- We are considering a guaranteed £2,000 bursary for all Care Experienced students, possibly through criteria of existing Durham Grant Scheme which many students may be eligible for due to financial circumstances.
- Signposting to additional financial support, both university wide and at the students allocated college.
- Appointment with University financial advisor or similar to be offered.
- Priority for hardship funds and signposting to support with applying for them.
- Piloting ‘Moving In’ and ‘Moving On’ bursaries (currently in their second year) – funded by alumni donations – Autumn 2021 and 2022 – £500 on arrival for first years and Summer 2022 £150 for graduating students.
- Work towards providing specialist training for personal tutors/other staff working with students
- Birthday and Christmas cards where this is celebrated sent right from beginning of the Choices Together Progressive Programme throughout university studies.
- Contact made when a student registers confirming the wellbeing services available.
- Individual referrals made for mental health support where appropriate.
- Work with University Students’ Union and College JCR’s to raise awareness of care experience and effect informal support such as informal meet ups, coffee mornings etc. and social media groups. Work with them to look to formalise a student organisation. Employ Care Experienced Ambassadors to support these.
- We are working with a current estranged student at Durham to try and set up a student group or society for CEES.
Graduation and Beyond
- Attend graduation ceremonies where appropriate.
- Work towards setting up a Care Experienced alumni network, offering support to alumni but also supporting new students coming through. Sharing knowledge and continued support for alumni.
- Celebrate successes with case studies on the NERAP website.
- Graduation day package – free gown hire, photography package and free tickets.
- Work to establish long term funding to continue to offer a “moving out” bursary, currently £500, to support students with initial expenses such as household items, society fees etc.
- We are considering a graduation bursary to support with transition from university.
- We are considering extending financial support to postgraduate students.
- Set up a Durham alumni chapter for Care Experienced graduates.
- Careers and employability sessions included in Choices Together Progressive Programme.
- Consider hosting a work experience placement/voluntary opportunity to support NERAP delivery.
- Support is provided by the University Careers, Employability and Enterprise Service throughout the duration of study and then as lifelong support to all Durham University graduates. Including the advertisement of job opportunities.
- Either online, face to face or via email, the University Careers, Employability and Enterprise Service offers one-to-one in a variety of areas including CV and application form support and feedback, interviews etc.
- We will actively target Care Experienced students for the role of Durham Student Ambassador or equivalent positions and offer a guaranteed interview. Our named contact will provide and/or signpost to interview support.
- We recently concluded our Ambassador recruitment for 22-23, which has resulted in six care experienced ambassadors appointed as Open Day Ambassadors.
- Named contact within Careers team, introduced during Freshers’ week and working with students throughout.
- Offer rooms on campus for care experienced student events, e.g., Local Authority foster carer training.
- We are NNECL and NorthCLASS members.
- Consider holding a regional Christmas dinner via the Christmas Dinner Project– Joint effort between Partners and NERAP working with the wider community.
- We will work towards the NNECL quality mark.
- We will aim to celebrate the successes of our care experienced students through producing case studies to share both within the university and wider community.