Widening Access and Outreach
The University of York’s Access and Outreach Team offers specific support, advice and guidance to care experienced people of any age.
We have a dedicated Access and Outreach Manager, Vanessa Conman, here to support you in thinking about your future and pathways to university.
- Support you in taking part in ‘On Track’, our dedicated outreach programme aimed at young people aged 10-25 who have had experience of being in care
- Give you bespoke support and advice over the phone or via email
- Meet you on campus for an informal cuppa and general chat about university, your options, student finance, different courses and student support (we can also cover travel expenses)
- Arrange for a current university student to show you around campus and answer any questions. Wherever possible, the current student will be care experienced. You are welcome to bring someone else along with you.
- Provide you with a bespoke VIP package to support your visit to the University of York for an Open Day, Interview Day, or Visit Day, including paying for transport and overnight accommodation for you and a guest.
- Support you with your application and give guidance on writing your personal statement
- Act as the link between you and the relevant Admissions Officers
- Support you in applying to take part in one of our Access and Outreach programmes, like Shine, Roots to Success, YorWay to York or Next Step York. Care experienced students are offered priority places on these programmes.
- Support you in taking part in one of our summer schools, like the York Experience Summer School. Care experienced students are offered priority places on our summer schools
“Making decisions about your future and whether university is right for you can be a challenge for any young person. For people who have experience of being in care, it can be even more daunting and often feel like it is too far out of reach. You may not have had a positive experience at school, you might not have traditional qualifications like A Levels, you might feel that you don’t have enough support, or you might just feel overwhelmed with everything that is going on in your life. However, higher education could make a huge difference to your life in so many ways, and we are here to help you overcome any barriers you might be facing. At the University of York we have a wide range of support available to you…from the first stage of thinking about your options, right up to applying, studying at university and beyond. Please get in touch with any questions you may have. I’m looking forward to meeting you!”
We welcome and encourage talented students from all backgrounds to apply to York. We are pleased to tell you that as a care experienced student, we can offer you a contextual offer. Contextual offers aim to provide a fair chance of getting into York. They allow us to look at more than exam results in the application process. This means that you can get an offer that is up to 2 grades lower than the typical offer. This also means that you will be guaranteed an invitation to interview by any departments that undertake interviews, and you may get a lower offer based on your interview.
Additionally, if you successfully complete one of our Access and Outreach programmes, you could be considered for a guaranteed interview or offer to study at York. You would also be eligible for an alternative offer which is up to three grades below the standard offer published in our prospectus. The alternative Widening Participation offer is conditional on the completion of our YorJourney programme, which comes with a whole host of additional benefits that will support your transition to university life. To find out more about our widening participation programmes, contact Vanessa (details above).
Starting university can be both an exciting and daunting time for most students. We have a dedicated contact for independent students, Fran Hornsby, so that you have a single point of contact from the point of being made an offer to study at York, and during your studies here. If you have indicated on your UCAS form that you have experience of being in care, the admissions team will email you to put you in touch with Fran. However, you can also contact her at any time (even if you did not disclose your having had experience of being in care on your UCAS application) if you have any questions or concerns relating to university life.
- Help with any further questions you may have about our courses and what it’s like to study at York
- Act as a link between you and your local authority
- Meet with you when you start at York
- Offer emotional and practical support throughout your studies and direct you to other appropriate university services
- Keep you updated with news and opportunities through a monthly newsletter
- Put you in touch with other independent students at the university, if you would like this. There are a number of regular social activities that you can go along to, both in person and online – they are a fun and informal way to meet other people in similar situations
- Invite you to join a dedicated Facebook group for independent students
- Put you in touch with a current student who can meet you on arrivals day, help you settle in and take you for lunch. Where possible, this student will also be an independent student
- Offer you tailored budgeting advice that will help you manage your money effectively and meet your essential costs, whilst still being able to enjoy yourself
“Starting university can be a daunting time. I will be in touch with you regularly during the few weeks before you start and continuing throughout your time here. You may need support with organising your move to York; if this is the case, let me know and I will help. To make your arrival as smooth as possible, we provide you with a welcome pack that will include bedding and kitchen packs. If you do not have suitable luggage, please let me know as I can arrange for this to be provided. We can also look to help with the cost of moving your belongings if you haven’t any suitable transport. I can also put you in touch with a student buddy if you would like to have someone meet you and help you settle in on your first day. If you need any guidance on applying to Student Finance, this is also something I can help you with. Please get in touch with any questions you may have. I look forward to meeting you and welcoming you to the University of York – it’s a fantastic place to study!”
We recognise that you may not want to tell anyone else at the university that you are care experienced. This information will be kept confidential and will only be shared if you give consent to share.
Dedicated webpage for care experienced students
We have a specific webpage with useful information for prospective and current students who have spent time in care: www.york.ac.uk/students/support/care-leavers/
Student Buddying Scheme
Through the Student Buddying Scheme we can put you in touch with a second or third year student. Where possible, we aim to match you with a current student who is also an independent student. This student buddy will help you settle into university life and get the most out of your first year here.
Step Ahead Induction
Our Step Ahead Induction aims to prepare you for studying at York and give you the best possible start to university life. It is open to all care experienced students.
At the Step Ahead induction event, you find out about making the most of your first year at York, preparing to study at the university and protecting your wellbeing. You’ll also meet other students and make friends prior to the start of term and be able to interact with current students who’ll give you an insight into student life at York. There is also the opportunity to chat with members of staff from across the University.
In addition to the support you will receive from the dedicated contact for independent students, Fran, there are plenty of other people you can approach for advice or a chat when you are at York, including: your college team, your academic supervisor, YUSU (University of York’s Students’ Union), Open Door and Disability and colleagues in the Student Hub.
Free year round accommodation for the duration of your course
We offer free campus accommodation (currently capped at £130 per week) to students who meet the following criteria:
We offer free accommodation, both on campus (for all years of study) and off-campus (except during the first year of study). This is capped at £130 per week and is available to students who meet the following criteria:
- You are studying an Undergraduate degree course
- You are a Home UK student
- You will be under 25 on the first day of your university course
- You have care leaver status and have been assessed as a care leaver by student finance. This means you will have been in care for at least 13 weeks at any time since the age of 14 (the period of 13 weeks does not need to be all in one go). If you are unsure whether you have care leaver status you should check with your leaving care team or personal adviser; you can also get more information here. If you haven’t been assessed as a care leaver by student finance but you think you meet the criteria please get in touch with Fran by emailing or phoning 01904 324140.
After your first year at York, you may decide to rent shared private sector accommodation that requires a UK based rent guarantor. If you don’t have a UK based guarantor, the University will act as your guarantor through the Rent Guarantee Scheme, in order to enable you to rent in the private sector.
If you have accepted either a firm or insurance place at York and apply for University accommodation by 31 July, we guarantee you an offer of a room owned, managed or approved by the University. You’ll be able to stay in University accommodation for 365 days of the year should you need to.
The sooner we know that you’re an independent student the better, as we’ll be able to help. Even if you’re making a late application, let us know your situation as soon as possible.
Our 40 and 44-week lets cover both the Easter and Christmas vacations while our 50-week lets cover summer too. Even If you want to live in York over the summer, you can still include shorter let lengths in your preferences. You can apply to live on campus for the summer nearer the time.
Many students will move into private sector accommodation for their second year. As you won’t know what your plans are yet, we’d advise you to select a 40 or 44-week let length to keep your options open. If you choose one of these shorter let lengths, we still guarantee you a room over the summer so that you can stay longer if you would like to. We suggest you don’t choose a 38-week let length as this would mean moving your belongings out of your room during Easter.
The university can also provide you with a free, secure space for you to store your belongings during the summer holidays should you need this.
We understand you may require additional information to help make your accommodation choices and are happy to discuss individual requirements. You can get in touch via email at or by phone on +44 (0)1904 322165.
Additional financial support
In addition to the standard student finance loans, we offer a Bursary to students who meet the following criteria:
- You are studying an Undergraduate degree course
- You are a Home UK student
- You will be under 25 on the first day of your university course
You have care leaver status and have been assessed as a care leaver by student finance. This means you will have been in care for at least 13 weeks at any time since the age of 14 (the period of 13 weeks does not need to be all in one go). If you are unsure whether you have care leaver status you should check with your leaving care team or personal adviser; you can also get more information here. If you haven’t been assessed as a care leaver by student finance but you think you meet the criteria please get in touch with Fran by emailing or phoning 01904 324140.
The bursary can be used towards a range of opportunities or activities. Examples include (this is not an exhaustive list): driving lessons, childcare, funding an internship, travel costs, study materials, and Students’ Union society activities.
The value of the bursary is as follows:
- Year 1: £3,000
- Year 2: £2,500
- Final year: £2,500 plus £1,000 to be paid in term three to assist with graduation and interview costs.
The package is available for each year of full-time study for the duration of the course, reduced by 50% for full-year sandwich placements or study abroad years.
If you find yourself in unexpected financial difficulty while you are studying we can provide additional advice about our assistance and emergency funding. If you decide to apply for this, you will be prioritised for an award.
At Christmas all independent students receive either a Christmas stocking or a hamper containing several gifts and a Christmas card signed by the Vice Chancellor. This small gesture is intended to let you know that the university community is thinking of you over the Christmas break. Through this project we also hope to raise awareness of some of the challenges faced by students studying without family support. In addition, all independent students receive a gift from the university on their birthday.
If you’re staying on campus over the Christmas period, you can sign up for our winter hosting. We match students who are in York over Christmas with a local person or family. The meet-up can be for just a few hours at any time over the festive season. For everyone involved, it’s a chance to meet someone new and share in some Christmas celebrations. This could be a meal at their house, a walk in the park or attending a Christmas event together. Once you’ve applied, we’ll be in touch to arrange a brief meet and greet at the start of December so you can have a chat first.
Careers advice and employment support
You can access personalised information and advice from an experienced team of staff, both on campus in the Careers and Placements building and remotely via phone, email and video call. Appointments can be booked via Handshake.
We encourage and support you to take up a wide range of opportunities available to you at York which build your readiness to find, compete for and secure the career options you want. The York Futures Scholarship programme will enable you to take full advantage of the many exciting personal and professional development opportunities such as work experience, study abroad and placement year. Through the programme, you can apply for financial and practical support to suit your ambitions at the different stages of your time at York. For instance, we would encourage you to consider a year in industry or year abroad study and/or work option for which you could be eligible for an award of £6,000.
Placement or study abroad year
Here at York we offer a wide range of opportunities to study, work or volunteer abroad. A global experience during your degree can be life changing. Not only will it enrich your academic studies, it will prepare you for a career in a competitive and global job market.
We aim to provide every student with an opportunity to develop a global perspective whether through study, work or volunteering. This global experience does not necessarily have to take place abroad, there are also ways to get involved here in York.
Additionally, there are opportunities to have a placement year which is a structured work experience opportunity that can be integrated into your studies, giving you a substantial amount of work experience that is recognised within your degree title. Many organisations offer placement opportunities and they are a great way of developing your employability skills whilst getting a flavour of a particular working environment. Placement years generally last between 9-12 months and are often aimed at penultimate year undergraduates.
Whilst on a placement or study abroad year, you will remain in full contact with York and be supported by all the services offered to students on campus. If you have a year abroad at another university, you will also be supported by the equivalent services at the host university. Worldwide travel insurance is offered for free to all students on study abroad programmes through our university business travel cover.
In order to support a placement or study abroad year, the university will provide you with a free, secure space for you to store your belongings. We will confirm these details during the process of applying.
If you would like someone to attend your graduation, Fran would love to join you – just let her know.
You can use the final bursary payment of £1,000 at the end of your degree to help towards the cost of hiring a gown and graduation photos so that you can thoroughly enjoy your graduation.
2. A Robust Employment Offer
As a care experienced student, you will be guaranteed an interview for the role of a Student Ambassador, as long as you complete the application form to the best of your abilities. The Student Ambassador role is a flexible, paid, part-time position where you will be an ambassador for the University and a role model for prospective students. In addition to this role being a great opportunity to earn some money, it will also help you develop skills in communication, team work, social and cultural awareness and problem solving.
Furthermore, you will automatically be invited to become an Independent Student Rep within the Access and Outreach team. You will have extra paid work opportunities to assist on projects and visits for care experienced young people.
The University is committed to supporting staff members who have experience of being in care. We are currently working with colleagues in HR to expand the support offered in this area.
York Cares is a partnership of the city’s leading employers committed to making York a better place through employee-volunteering. One of our programmes, Starting Blocks, gives care experienced people from the local community an insight into the working environment.
Our Access and Outreach team work closely with the local community, including schools and the local authorities, to support care experienced young people. We work in partnership with leaving care teams and Virtual Schools to host events for young people and professionals.