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Care Leavers Wanted



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The University of Manchester

Summary: The University of Manchester offers support for care-experienced young people at all stages of the student life cycle.

Further Details:

1. Student

The University of Manchester offers support for care-experienced young people at all stages of the student life cycle:

Uni of Manchester Flow Chart

We define “care-experienced” as a young person who has been in Local Authority care (including but not limited to public care, foster care, semi-independent living or residential care homes) for any amount of time at any point in their lives.

The University of Manchester recognises that any time spent in care can have a significant impact on young people’s lives.

All care-experienced young people are a priority group for our widening participation programmes and have access to enhanced pastoral support while at university.

Dependent on their age and time spent in care some care-experienced students will also be eligible for the University’s contextual admissions process, and non-repayable financial support. The criteria for these are laid out below.

Outreach Pre and Post 16:

We ensure that young people who are looked after and care-experienced are target groups in our core widening participation activities such as Gateways and the Manchester Access Programme.

We have a named contact based in the Widening Participation team for pre-entry care experienced students.

Networks and partnerships:

We have robust links with local authorities through the Outreach work we do, both pre and post 16 in collaboration with Greater Manchester Higher. Through this collaboration we work with the other HEIs in our region to provide impartial information, advice and guidance to care-experienced young people and their key influencers through a range of events and activities which run throughout the year. More information on these can be found in the Greater Manchester Higher Targeted Learners Brochure.

In 2020, in collaboration with Greater Manchester Higher we supported a dedicated Transition Mentoring Programme for care-experienced students.
Participants were matched with a current care-experienced student mentor – ideally, with similar career ambitions, subject interests, hobbies etc. Mentors and Mentees worked through a loosely structured programme of mentoring content intended to support transition to college and build confidence in settling in, new ways of learning and making the most of opportunities.

Delivered in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, Success4Life is a 10-week programme, which brings looked-after children together to take part in numerous interactive sessions in a university environment. The sessions provide the learners with the opportunity to improve their confidence and communication skills while raising their awareness of higher education.

We organise an annual event for adults who support care-experienced students to access higher education, to ensure they’re up to speed with current support and options at university. Called “Supporting the Supporters”.

Resources generated on this day are available to share with professionals via the Greater Manchester Higher website, further expanding the reach of the event and associated information throughout the year.

We offer bespoke visit days throughout the year to any young person in local authority care who would like to explore our campus, visit accommodation or meet current students – so we can answer any questions they have about higher education.

We are a founding member of the NEON Award Winning Greater Manchester Care Experienced Education Network (formerly GM Looked After Children’s Forum), with membership of all 10 Greater Manchester Local Authorities.

We co-organise the annual Greater Manchester Care Leaver awards

We are a member of NNECL and active member of our regional network, NorthCLASS.

Details of the support we offer is listed on the Propel Website.

Pre-Entry Support and Information:

We have a named point of contact who potential applicants or their supporters can contact with any queries pre-application.

We have a care-experienced student working on the Access Manchester stand during Open Days, to answer any queries from potential applicants.

Funding support is available on request for travel to campus for pre and post application visit days and interviews (e.g. Open Days, UCAS applicant days and interviews).

Care-experienced students are encouraged to participate in Greater Manchester Higher’s Apply E-Mentoring Programme which we support.
Participants are matched with a student mentor and receive dedicated support with their personal statement or apprenticeship application, get personalised answers about student life, student finance and next steps after applications and advice on dealing with offers and preparing for interviews. 

Post-Application Support:

All students who self-identify as care-experienced during the application cycle are contacted via email, and invited to get in touch for a phone call, visit or email contact with University staff to answer any questions they might have about their journey to university.

Drawn from UCAS applications, students who indicate their care-experience automatically obtain a WP+ flag in our contextual admissions process and if made an offer this will be one grade below the standard offer. At confirmation, if students narrowly miss their offer we will still consider them for a place and students who have received a contextual flag due to their care-experience status will be prioritized during their process.

On-Course Support:

  • Current care-experienced students have two named contacts in the Student Support and Wellbeing team.
  • Information about support for current care experienced students is made clear and easily accessible via the student support and wellbeing website: http://www.studentsupport.manchester.ac.uk/tailored-support/careexperiencedstudents/
  • Once students arrive at the University of Manchester, they are contacted within their first month by the named contacts to welcome them and check in. The named contacts can provide support by email, phone or face to face, and can signpost to University Support Services to help ease the transition into university life and navigate our systems and structures.
  • Care-experienced students are offered meetings with dedicated WP staff in the Careers Service, who can offer support for applications for work experience, internships, mentoring, funding for postgraduate study, work bursary schemes and more. There is a named Careers Consultant contact for care experienced students.
  • The Careers Service offers a Work Experience Bursary to ensure that WP students, including those who are care experienced, can access work experience opportunities with financial support towards travel, accommodation and, or dependent care costs.
  • Care experienced students’ applications are prioritised for places on the upReach Associate Scheme, run by a social mobility charity that works to support progression and boost graduate outcomes for undergraduates from low-socio economic backgrounds. The scheme offers mentoring and professional experience opportunities with top graduate employers throughout the student’s time at university.
  • The Undergraduate Access Scholarship awards students under the age of 25 who have been in public care for a minimum of three months since the age of 11 with £1000 a year throughout the duration of their Undergraduate course. This is in addition to the Manchester Bursary.
  • As independent students with no parental income; care-experienced students would almost certainly be eligible for the Manchester Bursary of £2000 a year for the duration of their course.
  • Care-experienced students have priority access to our living cost support fund.
  • We can support care experienced students with access to year-round accommodation if needed, in our halls of residence.
  • All care-experienced students are offered the opportunity to be fast-tracked through our student ambassador application process, giving them access to flexible work with the Student Recruitment and Widening Participation team, paying the living wage and developing transferable skills.
  • The Student Support and Wellbeing team host a monthly care experienced students network where current students can informally network with support staff and other students, hear about opportunities which are relevant to them at the current point in their student journey and feedback on what activities and opportunities they would like to see provided.
  • In 2020 welcome packs were provided for 21 new care experienced students in University Accommodation which included toiletries, a cookbook and a notepad.
  • The Student Support and Wellbeing team produce a dedicated newsletter for care-experienced and estranged students.
  • All care-experienced students are invited to attend the Manchester Christmas Dinner for Care Leavers.
  • Hearing the student voice in planning our work is important, and we consult with our care-experienced students to ensure we develop our work based on their needs and experiences.
  • Care-experienced students are a priority group for the University’s IT Access Scheme, providing laptop loans and support with Wi-Fi access.


Support on Graduation:

We offer care-experienced students support with graduation costs, including free gown hire.

Care-experienced students receive a personal invitation during the final year of their degree to attend an optional career planning meeting.

As a target WP group for our careers service care-experienced students can continue to access specialist services including career guidance, CV and application advice, Careers Service events, subscription services and access to the Careerslink vacancy database for two years from course completion date.

Careers and Employment

We will ensure care leavers are prioritised for pre-employment support to work at the University through ‘The Works’ a community based employment initiative.

We support current University of Manchester students with additional careers support and advice to help them make the transition from undergraduate and postgraduate study.

Experience of being in care is a priority group for students applying to our Manchester Master’s Bursary, providing £4,000 to students undertaking a Master’s course.

All on-course care-experienced students are invited to work as Student Ambassadors, and fast-tracked through the application and assessment process, to enable them to access flexible work which is paid at the living wage.

  • Work experience and Internship opportunities – We actively encourage University of Manchester care-experienced students to apply for our work experience bursaries and Student Experience Internship opportunities and signpost them to application support available through our Careers Service. The Student Experience Internship offers pre-final year undergraduates the opportunity to undertake an internship within the University. All SEI internships are paid, full-time and last up to eight weeks.
  • Additional careers support and advice for University of Manchester students – Care leavers are offered the opportunity to have a named careers consultant during their time at University with referrals to sector specialist careers consultants as necessary. To access this offer, care leavers should visit the Careers Service.
  • Manchester Master’s Bursary – applications for the Manchester Master’s Bursary open in March each year and care-experienced students are prioritised in the awarding of the bursary.

Coronavirus Pandemic Response

Between March-September 2020 the University suspended all face to face teaching and all staff were working from home, except for a small minority of essential roles required on campus.

In October 2020 some small group face to face teaching resumed and some support staff have returned to campus on a part-time basis.  Student support services moved online but have continued uninterrupted.

We have been able to deliver the majority of our outreach virtually.

Supporting the Supporters ran as a virtual event and was well attended and well received.

Success4Life has been postponed but will be delivered virtually in Spring 2021.

In place of the Care Leaver Awards, we ran a social media based celebration of care-leavers achievements for Greater Manchester Care Leavers Week 2-6 November 2020.

We introduced a number measures to support students through the pandemic.  Care-experience students were prioritized for this support and proactively signposted to it.

  • Our Living Cost Support Fund has been extended to support students who find themselves in financial hardship due to the pandemic.
  • We introduced an IT equipment loan scheme to support students to access online teaching and priortised care-experience students in allocating this support.
  • We secured 8 fully funded places in halls of residence for care experienced and estranged students for the academic year 20-21 from funding raised through our Emergency Hardship fund campaign.
  • We have pro-actively signposted students to mental health and wellbeing services and resources.
  • Our University Library is piloting a peer transition scheme from Autumn 2020 onwards, which will target students who have completed our Access programmes and any students who received a WP+ flag in the application process, therefore including all care-experienced first year students.

Developing activity

We will be taking part in the NNECL Quality Mark for the Inclusion and Success of Care-Experienced Students Greater Manchester pioneer project.

2. A Robust Employment Offer

  • Prioritise care leavers for support by ‘The Works’ to access employment into the University. To access this offer care leavers should contact The Works by ringing to book an appointment: 0161 359 3388.
  • Advertise apprenticeships to care leaver networks and explore the potential to offer specific CL apprenticeships at The University of Manchester.
  • Through our Greater Manchester Care Experienced Education Network, with representation from all 10 local authorities across Greater Manchester, we keep colleagues (and therefore care experienced students) up to date with opportunities to engage with any work experience placements being offered within the University.

3. Community

Social Responsibility is one of the three core, strategic goals of the University and as an institution; we strive to make a positive difference to the life and future of our region by taking socially responsible decisions that have real, beneficial, measurable impacts on the people and the world around us[1].

We will work closely with key staff and agencies represented in the Greater Manchester Care Experienced Education Network (CEEN). This network covers all 10 local authorities across Greater Manchester – Manchester, Stockport, Tameside, Oldham, Rochadale, Bury, Bolton, Wigan, Salford, Trafford. It can be used to ensure care leavers and their key influencers are made aware of the range of study and educational opportunities that already exist in the University, and how care leavers can benefit from some of the structural and cultural capital that the University has. Examples of activities include:

Coronavirus Pandemic Response

Due to the pandemic face to face community events have not been able to take place and access to face to face University services such as the Library have been limited to essential users. 

[1] https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/social-responsibility/

Next Steps

Stephanie Lee
Head of Widening Participation
0161 275 7544

Care Leaver Covenant

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