Our definition is as follows:
We define a Care Leaver as a young person over the age of 16 who has been in care of the local authority and/or Health & Social Care Trust for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14. This definition is reviewed annually, by the working group and takes into consideration all guidance provided by relevant bodies.
All care leavers who meet the above definition are eligible for the Enhanced Chamberlain Award of £5,975 if moving into University halls or a cash bursary of £3,000. The scholarship of £2,000 per academic year (plus the £500 graduation bursary) is provided in addition to the Enhanced Chamberlain Award. We currently have two scholarships available and this varies annually as the scholarship is funded by philanthropic donations.
We are committed to supporting care-experienced students through their complete life-cycle and achieve this in a number of ways.
Supporting care-experienced students before they apply to university
Single-point of contact
We have a single point of contact for care experienced people, care leavers and their advisers (applying no strict definition on what we mean by care experienced or care leaver). This point of contact is currently Alice McGowan () who will be able to support anyone with queries relating to accessing higher education. Alice is also a point of contact for the Birmingham Children’s Trust, who we work with very closely, providing support to personal advisers wherever useful.
On campus visits
We work collaboratively with our local virtual schools network, local authorities and other Higher Education Institutions to provide a robust programme of activity for care experienced young people throughout their secondary and post-16 education. As a part of a broader collaborative programme, the University of Birmingham provide at least two on-campus experience days.
The University of Birmingham deliver a broad range of well-established, progressive and impactful outreach programmes for pupils in year 8 through to year 13. This includes Forward Thinking for year 8 to year 11 pupils, the Your Future Your Choice year 10 summer school and the Pathways to Birmingham (involving Routes to the Professions and Inspired@Birmingham for year 12 and 13 pupils, the Academic Enrichment Programme involving a summer school for year 12 pupils and Access to Birmingham for year 13 pupils).
Pupils apply to these programmes, independently or through their schools. In our selection of participants, we give care experienced applicants priority, requiring them to meet no other socio-economic criteria and granting them a place wherever possible.
Visit our website for further information (www.birmingham.ac.uk/outreach)
The University of Birmingham believes it is important that we recognize the impact time spent in public care can have on the academic attainment of young people.
Under the Pathways to Birmingham programme, participants are eligible for an alternative offer which is two grades below the standard offer (conditions apply, see the website for further information (www.birmingham.ac.uk/ptb).
All UCAS applicants to the University of Birmingham (who do not participant in a Pathways to Birmingham programme) are eligible for a contextual offer which is one grade below the standard offer. For further information (www.birmingham.ac.uk/undergraduate/requirements/contextual-offer.aspx)
Communicating with applicants
The University of Birmingham is committed to providing full life-cycle support to care leavers who join the University. This support begins during the applications cycle; we contact every UCAS applicant who self-identifies care experienced, by email and post. We do this to build an early link between the applicant and single-point of contact and raise awareness of the support package they can access once on course. Any student who has applied to an interviewing subject can also access interview preparation support.
Supporting care leavers while studying at the University of Birmingham
Welcoming students to the University
To help us fully support students once they’re on course, we invite all care experienced students to attend an enhanced welcome event and a coffee morning, with the aim of supporting their transition and getting to know them. We are seeking to develop and improve this event, with insight from our student focus group, involving a larger number of key staff from across the University.
Care leavers receive an accommodation deposit waiver in order to secure University-owned accommodation without paying a bond. When allocating student accommodation, care leavers will be placed in their first choice University-owned halls of residence. Care leavers are also eligible to receive an Enhanced Chamberlain Award of £5,975 to cover the costs of their University accommodation. We provide flexible contracts for University-owned student accommodation, covering the full 365 days a year if required. We also provide welcome packs, including useful items like bedding, kitchen utensils and a meal voucher and key contact information, and will liaise with care leavers before they arrive to determine what they most need in their pack.
Supporting living costs
We recognize that a large proportion of University of Birmingham students choose not to move into University accommodation and instead commute to campus. With this in mind, we provide an Enhanced Chamberlain Award of £3,000 to care leavers who do not move into University accommodation. We also contact all care leavers who choose to live off campus with a booklet for commuters to ensure they receive the same level of support and information as those moving into halls.
Supporting care leavers is a key focus of our Development and Alumni Relations Team and, as a result, we are able to provide scholarships, funded by philanthropic donations, of £2,000 for each year of study (plus a £500 bursary upon graduation). This year we will award three care leavers with a scholarship.
2. A Robust Employment Offer
The University of Birmingham is committed to supporting all students during their time here and aim to ensure every student is able to make the most of their studies in order to succeed on course and progress onto graduate-level, fulfilling employment. Care leavers are given priority when selecting for many of the opportunities we provide.
Careers guidance, work experience and internships
- The Careers Network are particularly committed to our aims and provide support on course and for up to two years after graduation. This year, the Careers Network are viewing their selections process to provide priority for care leavers wherever possible.
- 2019 care experienced entrants will be provided with a named advisor who can provide 1-2-1 careers advice. We will introduce care leavers to their advisor at the start of the year and facilitate a meeting in the second term.
- The University’s Gateway Bursary provides financial support to students at the undertaking internships or work experience relevant to their future career. Care leavers who apply for a Gateway Bursary receive priority when we select recipients for the award.
- The Impact Challenge is a unique opportunity for our students to gain invaluable work experience that contributes to supporting their career journey, and enhancing the business prospects of local employers. Care leavers who apply for a place on the Impact Challenge are given priority.
Recruiting ambassadors and role models
- The University’s recruitment and outreach team hire student ambassadors each year. This is a paid position at the national living wage, with significant training to promote student development, as students support a range of events including open days, summer schools and secondary school visits.
- We give care leavers priority when selecting ambassadors for interview and give additional consideration when hiring ambassadors.
Global mobility and widening participation
- Our International Relations and Study Abroad teams are equally committed to widening participation. They have launched a new strategy to encourage a greater diversity of students who choose to study abroad or undertake global volunteering and work experience.
- In recent years, we have launched the Global Challenge. This is a fully-funded trip to Hong Kong, delivered in partnership with Common Purpose and the universities of Nottingham and Hong Kong and funded by philanthropic donations. 50 University of Birmingham and Nottingham students visit Hong Kong for a week to undertake a professional development alongside University of Hong Kong students. They meet graduates, professionals and alumni living in Hong Kong and learn more about the life and culture.
- We also provide a range of scholarships including a funded opportunity to undertake a summer school in Singapore.
- When selecting for interview and awarding places for our global mobility opportunities, care leavers are given priority and additional consideration. We also directly promote these opportunities to all of our care leavers on course.
Additional employment opportunities
- We are currently looking to enhance the support we provide to care leavers who apply for a place on our internships, graduate trainee programmes and apprenticeships.
In order to support our broader aims, we have worked hard to create networks and communities across the University.
Supporting Care Leavers Working Group
- To support the implementation of a full-life cycle approach we recently launched a Working Group with representatives from across the University.
- This Group involves the Development and Alumni Relations Office (key fundraisers of our philanthropic financial support packages), Funding, Graduations and Awards team (staff involved with the Enhanced Chamberlain Award), Student Wellbeing (the Head of Student Wellbeing and our Head of Student Wellbeing), an Academic representative (a Lecturer in Social Work with significant experience as a children’s social worker and increasing responsibility with Children’s Social Care), Accommodation Services (including a community officer, the point of contact in University-owned accommodation and the accommodation manager), the Guild of Students president and the Outreach team (including the single-point of contact for the University and the outreach manger). Membership will expand as our scope and aims develop.
- The Group reports to the SAPCommittee and feeds into the Access and Participation Plan.
Supporting Care Leavers Working Group – Student Voice Sub Committee
- During the next academic year we will create a student sub group of care experienced students to complement the Working Group. The sub group will provide a sounding board for discussion and agreements that come out of the Working Group.
- We already work with care experienced students in this way, albeit informally. They form a focus group, assist at our outreach events noted earlier, act as role and are supporting the development of a bank of case studies to include online and in print.
Local authority networks
- To have success in supporting care experienced people to access higher education, we must work closely with local authorities and relevant organizations. We work with the Birmingham Children’s Trust, building a stronger link to support care leavers and gain feedback and advice on our work. We also plan to provide CPD to personal advisers to enhance their understanding of university progression and support packages. We are also seeking seek their support in training our own staff.
- We work with Birmingham Virtual Schools, local authorities and local higher education providers to provide a robust programme of activity.
- We are seeking new ways of engaging local authorities and virtual schools located outside of the local area.
Regional and national networks
- We are active participants of NNECL (National Network of Education for Care Leavers) and will seek to gain their new quality mark once launched.
- We were previously holders of the Buttle Trust Quality Mark before its discontinuation.
- We are active members of the West Midlands Care Leavers Network.
- We have an up-to-date presence on the Propel website.