The following document sets out Queen Mary University of London’s support for those students with experience of the local authority care system (“care experienced”).
The Queen Mary Student Recruitment and Widening Participation Team work closely with the university’s Advice and Counselling Service to ensure we provide continued support from application to graduation for our students and applicants who are Care Experienced or Estranged from their families.
We understand the hurdles independent students face and are here to make the journey to university as smooth as possible and ensure that you have access to all the care, funding, housing and welfare services that we offer.
Those who are care experienced and considering applying to university, should contact to arrange a bespoke campus visit and guide individuals through the application to, and transition to Queen Mary University of London.
As part of our broader offer, our team work with Virtual Schools and LEAs across London boroughs to run University Awareness events for Looked After Children.
At Queen Mary University of London, our mission is to create a truly inclusive environment where we support talented students regardless of their background or personal experience. By using contextual data, we can take this information into account to form a complete view of a student’s attainment and potential when we assess their application to study with us.
Students with experience of at least 13 weeks in local authority care during the period of their secondary education are eligible for a contextualised offer of up to a 2 A level grade reduction for the majority of undergraduate programmes at Queen Mary.
In addition to our contextual admissions policy, we deliver several access schemes to support students with the progression to Queen Mary. For more information:
Pathways to Law
Stepping Stones (Geography)
Bridge the Gap (Medicine and Dentistry)
Queen Mary has a dedicated scheme to support care experienced students, which includes having a dedicated, named member of staff as their key contact. This page outlines this support, which is largely delivered by Welfare Advisers working within the Queen Mary Advice and Counselling Service. One of the Welfare Advisers will be a student’s dedicated key contact for support during their time at Queen Mary.
Students are encouraged to contact us to access this support scheme before they start at Queen Mary – ideally before applying for a place at university or soon after. However, students are welcome to contact us at any stage of their studies.
Topics we can support students with include:
- applying to student finance as an independent student
- budget planning
- Applying for financial support during the course, such as university hardship funds
We proactively contact every student who declares their care-experienced status via UCAS tick box, to outline the dedicated support from a named contact. This support begins at the point of application, during transition to university and throughout their studies.
We provide a second opportunity for students to self-declare as care experienced via our annual online enrolment from. Students who did not tick the box on their UCAS application but disclose at this point will be offered the exact same support. This support offer is optional and can be taken up at any point during enrolment at the university.
A named, dedicated Welfare Adviser will proactively communicate information throughout a student’s time at Queen Mary, sending timely information for example about support during university closure periods, exam support info, and reminders about applying for hardship funds and financial support. Students can contact their Welfare Adviser at any time to access support whenever they need it.
Students applying for Student Finance as an independent student (due to care experience) should be entitled to the full Maintenance Loan. Once assessed as an independent student, they will automatically be entitled to the full Queen Mary bursary of £1,700 per academic year without needing to apply separately for this.
Independent students, with support from their Welfare Adviser if needed, are eligible to apply for funding from the Financial Assistant Fund at Queen Mary for a grant to help with summer holiday living costs.
Queen Mary makes available a Study Abroad Bursary fund on an annual basis, to assist students who might facing difficulties in meeting the costs of an exchange programme abroad.
Any student who is in receipt of a Queen Mary Bursary will be considered for the Study Abroad Bursary once they hold a Conditional offer of exchange (if their application is successful), no further application is necessary.
The Global Opportunities Office is submitting a centralised application for the new Turing Scheme on behalf of Queen Mary for a 2021/22 project. This application includes additional funding for students who are care experienced, and who support themselves financially.
Queen Mary is currently reviewing how it can better support care experienced students on Study Abroad placements and will update guidance in due course.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
We run an Independent Student Support Group, facilitated by a welfare adviser and a counsellor. This consists of eight weekly sessions and provides a safe and confidential space for students who are studying without family support to meet together, share experiences of university life and offer each other support. This was run as a pilot (online) in 2020-21 and has now been embedded as a permanent support group organised by our Student Life team.
All students are able to receive support from trained counsellors and mental health advisers, throughout their time at Queen Mary. If they need longer term therapeutic support they can be provided with options for accessing this externally.
The Advice and Counselling and Careers end Enterprise Services run an event for final year independent students, to help them prepare to transition out of university, including 1-1 careers planning and 1-1 practical finance guidance.
2020/21 – all final year independent students offered a £1000 bursary upon completion of study, to support them moving on from university (we are currently reviewing bursary provision for ongoing academic years)
Staff at Queen Mary
Queen Mary is devising new training for academics. This includes specific guidance about support for independent students, a greater understanding of what their challenges and needs might be, and clear information about where to refer those students to for appropriate support. There is a specific web page for academics including this information, and training modules and videos include relevant content.
Queen Mary is committed to working alongside care experienced students, listening to their lived experiences and facilitating opportunities for them to make their voices heard.
We have recently completed a listening exercise with a number of our care experienced students, our Vice Principal (People, Culture and Inclusion), Director of Student and Academic Services and Student Union VP Welfare. The feedback received will drive a number of strategic priorities moving forwards, including:
• A review of our financial support offer to care experienced students, and students without family contact
• New welcome and induction events specifically for independent students
• A new Independent Student Network – a student-led group which will meet to make the voice of independent students heard, both within Queen Mary and externally, and to facilitate peer support.
Care Leaver and Estranged Students Working Group
This cross-institutional staff working group meets termly to discuss any support issues arising for independent students, information sharing and considering best practice. We are currently reviewing how this group works. We plan to include a student voice element in it going forwards, once the student network is established.
Student Ambassadors are part of the Student Recruitment and Widening Participation team within the central Marketing & Communications directorate.
These are paid positions allowing for flexibility around students’ study timetable.
By acting as positive role models, Student Ambassadors are vital to young people’s decision making and aspirations. They play a key part in the University’s recruitment and widening participation work by representing Queen Mary and championing higher education.
Students applying for ambassador roles will have the opportunity to declare their care experienced status on their application form and ticking this box will result in them being given extra consideration at the shortlisting stage.
Care experienced students are eligible for support from a dedicated Careers Consultant at the Queen Mary Careers and Enterprise Centre throughout their course. Employers are looking to see graduates who have developed transferable skills and work experience alongside their academic studies. A Careers Consultant can give one to one advice and help with building work experience and skills throughout a student’s time at university.
We are dedicated to ensuring our Careers Team better understand the lived experience of care experienced students, in order that they can offer personalised support and guidance. We are committed to enhancing this knowledge and awareness via CPD training sessions for the careers team, co-delivered by Queen Mary staff and care experienced students.
QMentoring is an employability programme for undergraduate students at Queen Mary. Priority is given to those who are in receipt of a bursary.
Through these one-to-one relationships with a member of the alumni community, or UK-based professional, students are supported to make better informed career choices, develop their employability skills, and gain confidence with applying for graduate job roles.
In their final year of study, care experienced students are contacted and offered dedicated careers guidance to support their transition out of undergraduate study and into further study or employment.
2. A robust employment offer
Queen Mary University of London is keen to explore how, within our organization, we could respond to this aspect of the Covenant. We shall engage with the wider institution, to include members of the careers team along with HR and other central staff and we will also link with the local authority to understand the local need and how QMUL might respond.
The Verbatim Formula
The Verbatim Formula (TVF) is a collaborative participatory arts project that has developed verbatim theatre techniques to share the voices of care-experienced young people, care leavers, and adults responsible for their care and education. TVF supports the validation and de-stigmatisation of care-experienced students’ needs.
TVF works with young people as co-researchers, as they are experts in their own life experience and in the systems they deal with. Through using verbatim performances of their testimonies, it raises awareness and provokes change to working practices in care and education. Queen Mary academic staff have been at the core of this project.
Since 2015, the TVF team has worked with arts organisation People’s Palace Projects and the Greater London Authority to deliver free university residential workshops for 14-18-year-olds with experience of care; to deliver training to staff at universities and in local authorities; and to employ care-experienced young people to raise awareness of their experiences in policy contexts.
Activities have also included a commission from the Office for Students in 2021 to share students’ experiences as part of OfS policy development.
The academic lead of The Verbatim Formula, Dr Maggie Inchley, provides dedicated advice for care leavers applying to programmes within the School of English and Drama. You can learn more about the project at theverbatimformula.org.uk/
Legal Advice Centre
The Legal Advice Centre at Queen Mary University of London has two key aims: enhancing the education of our students and promoting access to justice in the community. We provide free, high-quality, legal advice, to members of the public; in particular, those who cannot afford to pay for legal advice. Care leavers are encouraged to contact the centre for advice, please visit: www.lac.qmul.ac.uk/contact/
The Institute of Dentistry provides a wide range of services and operates as a major centre for the local community and for patients who need specialist treatment. Queen Mary will highlight this community service to our local authority contacts.