Northumbria 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.
Northumbria 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 open days, interviews etc. Cover expenses for getting to and from campus and lunch etc.
- 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.
- Named University contact who engages with the working group and has, or is willing to develop, an underlying knowledge of care experienced students. The named contact should form part of a staff member’s role and time should be allocated for CPD opportunities to further develop their understanding of this role.
- We are currently considering how student data can be collected, via UCAS and via enrolment form. Reach out directly to students, pre-entry, and post-entry.
- Visit to campus and meeting with named contact offering specific advice around application, finance, and accommodation options.
- Automatic eligibility for University supported entry routes.
- We are currently considering guaranteed contextual offer for Care Experienced students.
Post – Entry Support
- Support with moving in, to include personal meet-and-greet at station/airport etc. and help with moving belongings where required.
- Welcome pack provided where required, to include basics such as £20 supermarket voucher and new home card with contact details.
- Option for early arrival.
- We will consider waiving accommodation deposit.
- Year-round accommodation and possible social activities through vacation periods.
- Northumbria University is working in partnership with the Unite Foundation on the ‘Home at University: Widening Access & Participation Pilot’. The scholarships are open to students who are care leavers or estranged from their family, and who are applying for their first year of undergraduate study at Northumbria University starting in the academic year 2023/24. The scholarship covers accommodation and bills for 365 days a year for up to three years of study. It provides students with year-round, fit for purpose student accommodation that includes support of social integration, proactive well-being engagement and rapid responsiveness to welfare matters. Further information about the application process can be found here.
- Free summer storage facilities. Consider this for placement/study abroad years too.
- Finance and budgeting sessions as part of progressive programme.
- Guaranteed £2,000 bursary for all undergraduate Care Experienced students based on eligibility criteria
- Signposting to additional financial support.
- Appointment with University Inclusion practitioner offered and referrals to financial advisers available throughout study
- Priority for initiatives and funds such as Employability Learning Fund and Student Inclusion Consultant opportunities
- 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 student registers confirming wellbeing services available.
- Mental health support can be expedited based on Inclusion Practitioner referral and recommendations if appropriate
- Working towards collaborating with the University Students’ Union to offer informal meet ups, coffee mornings etc. and social media groups. Working towards engaging Care Experienced Ambassadors to support this. Look at supporting the setup of CE student club/society.
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 NERAP website.
- Considering providing a graduation day package – free gown hire, photography package and free tickets.
- Graduation bursary to support with transition from university enabled through end of term payment of second bursary instalment
- We are currently considering extending financial support to postgraduate students.
- Careers and employability sessions included in Choices Together progressive programme.
- Consider hosting a work experience placement/voluntary opportunity.
- CV/application/ interview support offered by University Careers Services during course and up to three years post-graduation.
- Look to actively target CE students for Student Ambassador or equivalent positions and offer guaranteed interview.
- Named contact within Careers team, introduced during Freshers’ week and working with students throughout.
NERAP and Partner University
- Offer rooms on campus for care experienced student events, e.g. with virtual schools, LA foster carer training.
- All to become NNECL and NorthCLASS members.
- We are in the process of looking to the feasibility of a Christmas Dinner Project– Joint effort between Partners and NERAP working with wider community. Explore what LAs are doing for this.