Featured Signatory Offer Details
London Metropolitan University
London Metropolitan University, commonly known as London Met, is a public research university in London, England
Full life-cycle support for care leavers
London Metropolitan University understands the specific challenges faced by care leavers throughout their student journey. The support available at the University reflects this, and follows the latest principles and guidance from sources including the Department for Education (DfE), the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), First Star, and the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL).
Outreach and local authority relationships
Bespoke events – The widening participation (WP) team coordinates bespoke visits for care-experienced individuals or groups of young people, in collaboration with local authorities and virtual schools. Visits include a chance to discuss the support available with the University’s designated care-leaver named contact, view the campus, chat with current students, and where possible, to meet relevant academic tutors. Friends, family, carers and social workers are also welcome.
Collaborative working – The WP team has been working collaboratively across the University’s networks (with organisations such as AccessHE and HELOA) for many years to deliver large-scale information days, bringing together multiple universities and charities to the same venue to provide specialist information, advice and guidance (IAG) and to support care-experienced applicants and their advisers in exploring their higher education options.
Priority across all activities and other support – Care-experienced students are a priority group on all broader WP projects at the university, including summer schools and Saturday clubs. We also often support individuals with travel costs.
Events for current students – The WP team works closely with our named contact to run bespoke events supporting care-experienced students through their entire student journey. Recent activities include social events, ‘Life after university’ careers days, and ‘Your rights and entitlements’ sessions. We also have relationships with a number of care-related charities, such as Drive Forward and Become, and invite them in and/or refer students where appropriate.
Recognising that care leavers do not generally have access to financial support from their family and mainly rely on funding from the local authority, the University offers advice on how to maximise income and also provides financial assistance as follows:
Care leavers’ bursary – London Met offers a care leavers’ bursary for full-time students of £1,500 for each progressive year of their undergraduate degree. This is intended to help towards course costs and basic living expenses, and is usually paid in three instalments at the beginning of each term. Applications for the bursary are made automatically when students apply for Student Finance England (SFE) funding.
Hardship support fund – Available during both term-times and the summer period, this fund is intended to assist students who are facing particular financial difficulty in remaining on their course. Care Leavers are treated as priority applicants.
Accommodation support – London Met understands the importance of having a regular fixed address for care leavers, to enable them to feel settled and focused on their studies. We work with care leavers to find suitable accommodation and also assist in arranging accommodation for 365 days of the year.
London Met is also one of a small number of universities whose students are eligible to apply for a Unite Foundation scholarship scheme which could provide care leavers with three years of free student accommodation.
Designated member of staff
The University employs a specialist, full-time, permanent Care Leaver Adviser to support and advocate on behalf of care leavers. In addition to assisting with funding from SFE and checking students are receiving all the financial support available, they may also (with consent) communicate with social workers/personal advisers to coordinate the best arrangements and support to suit the individual’s needs. The named contact also provides additional holistic support and advice, and will facilitate direct referrals and signposting to appropriate specialist services within or external to the University, such as to the Disabilities and Dyslexia Service, or the NHS.
As well as financial and emotional support, the University offers academic assistance such as study skills training. Workshops are run throughout the year specifically for care-experienced students on careers, funding, and confidence-building, as well as fun social events to aid in building social networks.
There are also opportunities to be involved in the student ambassador scheme, mentoring projects, and tailored work placements at the university.
Students have a named Careers Consultant who works in partnership with the named Care Leaver Adviser, and they receive termly email updates regarding the work of the Careers & Employability service e.g. on booking 1:1 appointments, upcoming events, and workshops for careers IAG. Care-experienced students are also able to use the Careers & Employability Service for up to three years after graduation.
Offer details online
2. A Robust Employment Offer
Current work and commitments relevant to care leavers
As an equal opportunities employer focused on transforming lives through education, we are committed to helping all current and future employees to reach their potential. We are particularly passionate about helping our own care leaver students prepare for and successfully take the next step into employment.
As well as the dedicated support we offer our care leaver students, including named contacts, careers advice, support finding accommodation, help to source potential additional funding ,and asylum seeker / discretionary leave to remain support, we also have a very active and successful student employment and work experience programme. We have a long standing commitment to provide work experience – including paid work – for as many of our students as possible, to help them financially and to give them the confidence and employment skills to enable a smooth transition from education into the world of work.
As well as our great work on employability, we have successfully run an in-house recruitment service, Met Temps, which is run by our students for our students. Through this and through our Student Ambassador initiative we have prioritised work for our students, giving over 500 students an average of over 150 hours paid work in each of the last two years. Many of our care-experienced students have taken advantage of these services over the years.
Potential future work
Future potential activities to support care-experienced employees that are currently being actively discussed include:
- Graduate internship programmes with particular focus on care leavers
- Offering care leavers a package of a course combined with the opportunity of a graduate internship or paid work placement
- Establishing a staff care-leaver network, alongside our other inclusive staff networks
- Clearer invitations for care leavers and other under-represented groups to apply for roles
- A guaranteed interview scheme
Collecting more systemic data on employees and applicants who are care-experienced e.g. through equality monitoring forms and annual staff surveys
We already make a valuable contribution to London (and beyond) that benefits the care-experienced community either directly or indirectly, this includes:
- Outreach work specifically for care leavers/care experienced students and with virtual school heads, as discussed above
- Our Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit has a long and proud history of researching and challenging violence, working with organisations such as the United Nations and the World Bank, and contributing to the UK’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
- Our annual Big Idea Challenge nurtures the enterprise skills of young people across London, reaching over 20 colleges and sixth-forms at the last count
- Our Refugee Advice and Guidance Unit, which is part of the Building Bridges Programme funded by the NHS, provides specialist careers advice and guidance as well as employability training for refugee health professionals
- The Social Integration Design Lab, delivered by Snook, New Economics Foundation and London Met, supports the Mayor’s strategy for social integration and local regeneration by bringing 17 boroughs together with social design experts, public sector innovators and citizens
- We train successive generations of social workers and develop innovative solutions to support the profession, such as mobile apps for social worker skill development and career progression
- We work with Islington Council to deliver Upward Bound, an educational programme funded by the Dame Alice Owen Foundation, which raises the attainment and aspirations of Islington secondary school pupils
- Our staff and students give their expertise and time to support the voluntary sector
- Journalism students publicise the work of local charities including Arsenal in the Community, Freightliners Farm, the Margins Project at Union Chapel and the Estorick Gallery
- Architecture students construct large-scale structures to support community charity Mudchute
- And law students offer free legal advice to the community.
As part of the new six-year University strategy we will be focusing on how we work with our local community as an important civic institutions, aligning our activities to support the objectives of other key organisations in our localities and the wider capital, driving opportunity and prosperity for all.
The goals of the ‘Giving back to our City’ strand of the strategy are:
- To embrace the strategic priorities of our London partners and the concerns of our local communities to support the city’s economy and address the social issues it faces
- To provide opportunities for our staff and students to give back to our city and contribute to its success
- To provide the capital with values-driven graduates who will support London’s transformation in line with our mission.
But we want to play an even bigger part in our city’s success, so we will:
- Engage with London partners, local education providers and alumni to co-design solutions to the challenges facing London
- Contribute to the governance of London’s institutions and organisations
- Develop lasting and meaningful engagement with our communities to help deliver what they need and want
- Draw on funding opportunities from the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) and other funding providers to support collaboration between London Met and our partners, supporting our shared agendas
- Embed the principles of social justice and social inclusion into our curriculum, with a specific emphasis on the challenges facing London
- Undertake research and impact work to support the key priorities of our partners
- Involve our students and staff in local community initiatives, community development projects and volunteering initiatives.
We commit to work with local partners and to prioritise the needs of those with experience of care, including tailored communications and campaigns.