Vannessa, a second year Politics student at Loughborough University talks about her journey into Higher Education and how she is making the most of her student experience.
Making the decision to attend university can be a daunting prospect for any student, but for care leavers there may be additional concerns around finances, accommodation and the support networks available.
At Loughborough University we provide advice and encouragement to students from care to help them develop their ambitions and realise that higher education is an option. We also offer comprehensive support packages so that care leavers with the potential and motivation to enter higher education can do so without some of these additional worries.
In addition, we deliver a series of on campus taster days (please see events below for more information) and offer eligible students our care leavers bursary. For those students from care who wish to visit our campus as part of their university research, we can offer financial support to cover the cost of their travel. For more details about this service please contact WP@lboro.ac.uk. When required, individually tailored pastoral support is offered to ensure that all barriers to study are removed.
To understand more about how this provision helped Vannessa to realise her goals, watch our short film below.
Additional support and information for care leavers
Supporting a student’s application to Higher Education can be a complicated and lengthy process. Our School and College Liaison team have developed a range of free resources that can be used within your own institution to help structure this process, including a range of short videos and supporting handouts.
In addition to this we also recognise the key role that parents/carers can play in the decision making process and that for some families this can be a daunting prospect. To help facilitate these conversations we have created a downloadable guide for families. If you would like to request a printed copy please contact us.
Once a student has made a successful application to Loughborough University and accepted their place via UCAS track, we will supply them with a What’s next guide. This outlines the remaining key dates associated with UCAS, details on how to choose and apply for accommodation and information on student finance packages available. It also includes a range of contact details for staff within the University who can answer any queries that a student may have in the lead up to the start of their studies with us.
Events at Loughborough University
Looked After Children University Experiences - The School and College Liaison team offer University Experience days specifically aimed at looked after children. These days cover the broad range of support available for children who are leaving care to come to University, whilst giving participants to ask any questions they may have about University in an informal environment. These days can be tailored to multiple age ranges, and booked for a mutually convenient time. Please contact WP@lboro.ac.uk for more information.
Inspiring Minds - Throughout the course of the academic year the School and College Liaison team run the Inspiring Minds event programme. This is a series of one day taster days which allow students to experience undergraduate learning first hand through a range of taster lectures, workshops and activities. Led by our academic staff we want to give students the opportunity to explore potential degree courses associated with their favourite subject areas and to understand the potential careers that they can lead to. To find out more about the event contents or to book a student onto one of these free one day courses please click here.
Support services at Loughborough University
Loughborough University recognises that our campus is made up of diverse students, each with their own individual backgrounds and needs. In response to this our Student Services team offer a varied package of support which is easily accessible for all. Provision is divided up into key areas to allow students to easily contact the team who will be best placed to help them.
Counselling - All students are entitled to an individual, confidential assessment which will allow our team to determine the most appropriate way to support their specific circumstances.
Mental health support - Once evidence of a mental health issue has been provided students will be invited to attend an individual, confidential assessment to agree any adjustment that might be required. This may include additional time during exams, extensions on course work and helping a student to access additional funding through the Disabled Students Allowance.
Study skills support - Students can access this service to gain additional study skills support. This can include screening for specific learning differences; educational psychology reports and one to one study support when required.
Maths support - The Mathematics Learning Support Centre (MLSC) provides award-winning mathematics and statistics support. Our services are available to every Loughborough student, and last year we had over 5,400 visits by students from 19 departments.
We operate two well-resourced Centres. Students are welcome to use these as study spaces, and to use of the one-to-one drop-in help offered by experienced mathematics lecturers. Workshops are available on employers’ numeracy tests, using calculators, and mathematical computing. The Eureka Centre offers one-to-one help for students who lack confidence with mathematics or statistics
Practical and academic support - Students can access this service to gain additional support in developing their academic skills in areas such as note taking and revision. When required students can also ask for support in developing their day to day, living tasks.
Careers advice and guidance - The Careers Network offer a daily drop in service (no need to book) for any student who wishes to speak to a consultant about their future.
Students can book sessions to gain support with mock interviews, job applications/CV writing and compiling presentations for interviews.
Disability mentoring - For those in receipt of the Disabled Students Allowance or with evidence of a disability, this mentoring service provides one to one support to optimise social and academic aspects of the university experience. It ensures that all students can make the most of the opportunities being offered to them.
Confide - A service that allows students to report any instances of bullying or harassment that they may have experienced.
Warden service - For some students the thought of moving away from home and settling in to accommodation in an unfamiliar location away from family and friends can be a daunting prospect. All of Loughborough University’s halls of residence are supported by a live in Warden and their team, who provide 24 hour support in the case of emergency and general support to ease the transition of moving away from home. They aim to secure an enjoyable living environment for all students and any concerns or problems that are shared with a member of the warden team are treated in confidence.
Leaving care bursary: Care leavers are usually considered as independent students for the purpose of student finance and are often eligible for the highest levels of bursary and scholarship support.
In terms of the Loughborough Scholarship Programme, care leavers are entitled to an enhanced package of support. This includes an additional £1,500 bursary and £3,000 tuition fee waiver in each year of a standard three-year degree programme. This means could equate to up to £6,500 support a year.
This bursary is only available to those students who are under the age of 25 when registering for the start of their undergraduate degree course.
A complete overview of these services can be viewed here.
Support from Loughborough Students’ Union
Loughborough University’s award winning Students’ Union offers over 300 societies and sports teams, fundraising initiatives and volunteering opportunities. The variety on offer represents the diverse nature of our students’ interests and allows cohorts of individual with similar passions to come together. If the Students’ Union does not currently provide a society or sports team to reflect a particular area/activity, they have a process in place to help get one set up.
Nightline - An out of hours, confidential and anonymous listening service that provides support for students by telephone and email. Staffed by our current students, this term time service allows those with concerns to talk to one of their own peers about the changes and challenges that they may be facing.
Health and wellbeing - As part of our commitment to ensuring our students have healthy lifestyles; Loughborough Students Union run regular campaigns encourage everyone to review their eating, sleeping and exercise habits.
We also run a number of events focused on mindfulness, relaxation and methods for beating stress (which includes the opportunity to pet puppies!) to help our students cope with the pressures of academic study.
Better decisions - This campaign aims to encourage students to make better decisions, especially with regards to knowing their drinking limits and the decisions that they make once drunk. Work focuses on aspects of student safety, for example, the University operates a free night bus from the Union to their home to ensure students get home safely after a night out. Sexual health is promoted and the Union offer free contraceptives and confidential screening for STIs.
Kickstart a campaign - If students are passionate about a cause that isn’t currently represented by the Union then they are invited to launch their own via the Kickstart platform. Previous examples include campaigns looking at eating a balanced diet on a tight budget, eradicating racism and breaking down gender stereotypes.
National support services
NNECL - Offer extensive support, resources and events across the country to those who are involved in working with looked after children. They have a range of really useful materials on their website and their annual conference provides an opportunity not only for CPD but also to network and share best practice with other professionals working with this cohort.
Stand Alone -A support service offering advice for those who are estranged from their families. Alongside signposting support they also produce a series of guides for how staff may be able to offer guidance to estranged students, particularly at difficult times of the year such as Christmas.
Become -Previously working as the Who Cares Trust, Become offer support and advice to young people from care backgrounds to help them achieve their potential and ambitions. Their webpages feature dedicated advice for staff advising students from this cohort.
Student Finance England created a range of short films that outline the support available to those wishing to study a degree level course. As part of this suite there are those that focus on funding available for mature students, those with dependents and those wishing to apply for the Disabled Students Allowance. The films clearly outline the kind of funds available and processes required for applying for them.
#CareDay18 – Care Day is the largest celebration of children in care in the UK and Ireland, and it is run in England by the leading charity for children in care and young care leavers, Become (formerly The Who Cares? Trust).
To help get the nation involved, Become has published a guide for services, professionals, politicians, young people and others who want to support the campaign. This guide can be downloaded from Becomes website
Resources for estranged students
UCAS have put together a hub of resources to help support students applying to university without the support or approval of their family. Loughborough works closely with the charity Stand Alone, and student support staff throughout the UK, to provide information about student finance, accommodation, and where to find more support, to help them succeed at university.
Engaging Estranged Students – Stand Alone conference, 6 March 2018
If your school or college would like more guidance on supporting estranged students, Stand Alone is hosting a conference at the University of Salford, on 6 March. You can hear from university and college staff who have taken the Stand Alone Pledge, and discuss how they’ve worked to engage estranged students.