Learn with Care to Go Higher: Choosing where to study HE
There are a lot of decisions to make when transitioning to Higher Education (HE), one of the most important being where to study. With hundreds of providers across the country – including universities, HE in Further Education provision, and specialist institutions – it can feel overwhelming. As a care-experienced student there can be some additional things to keep in mind, some of which we will look at in this article.
Go Higher West Yorkshire’s (GHWY) 13 member institutions have committed to our collaborative Care Leaver Covenant, which can be found here. The e-resource is a commitment from our members to provide support to care-experienced students, many of which specifically meet the needs mentioned below.
Many HE providers have a widening participation or dedicated Outreach Officer. These roles are focused on supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds and can be a great indication that the institution is dedicated to inclusion. These teams/individuals often arrange outreach events or provide additional support to applicants and can really showcase the level of support on offer.
Some institutions also have admission support. This means that if you are considering applying to them, they will be able to offer advice and guidance on how to make your application as strong as possible, including personal statement advice and often advice on finance. If you are potentially eligible for reduced entry requirements via a contextual admissions scheme (or equivalent) they may be able to inform you about the criteria to help your application to be considered with your personal experiences in mind.
In addition to financial advice, some institutions offer bursaries or other forms of financial support. Checking which of these is available in advance can be a deciding factor if two institutions are comparable and only one offers additional financial support. A word of warning: while all of GHWY’s members have committed to a common definition of care-experienced, ensuring as much access to support as possible (find out more here), not all institutions across the country have done so. This means that while some institutions would consider an applicant care-experienced, others may not due to different eligibility criteria.
Support for care-experienced students can be a key consideration when deciding where to study but wellbeing and academic support, which many HE providers offer, are incredibly valuable too. Given how much things can vary between institutions, checking if a provider can meet your needs is essential. Wellbeing support can be everything from counselling, mindfulness courses, or mental health support and academic support can usually be found via a tutor.
Housing support is also often offered. This can vary from 365-day accommodation to financial support or even welcome packs of useful things you may need. All GHWY members that own their accommodation offer 365-day contracts for care-experienced students but the other support can vary. If something is important for you, be sure to check.
While this may seem like a lot to consider, it is important to remember that not all these points will be key to everyone. Making sure only the relevant ones are taken into consideration should make the decision a lot easier. In my experience, HE providers are happy to help so if you have questions, contact their care leaver contacts or visit their websites. The care-experienced pages for our partners can be found here so why not check them out?
Dominic House, GHWY Care to Go Higher Delivery Officer