Learn with Care to Go Higher: Considering HE support needs for care-experienced students 

One of the main considerations for care-experienced students who are looking into Higher Education (HE) is the amount of support available from the providers.  

A lack of family support means that, unlike many of their peers, they may not receive any financial aid. They are also statistically more likely to experience wellbeing and mental health concerns than those without care-experience. This means they may require greater support if they are to succeed in and progress through HE. 

It is important that students understand what they need as well as what is available. It is the responsibility of anyone over the age of 18 to declare their care-experienced status to their HE provider in order to access support. This will be completely new for some students as this may have previously been done by local authorities, foster carers or another responsible adult. 

Individuals can find out more about available support by contacting the dedicated care-leaver contact at their chosen HE provider. Speaking to named contacts can help to match the students’ needs with the support offered by the provider. This might include bursaries, counselling, mindfulness courses or academic support. Having this support in place potentially makes a much smoother transition from Further Education to HE. 

Each of Go Higher West Yorkshire’s 13 members have a named contact with whom students can discuss their support needs, both before and during their studies. Contact details and some of the support offered by them can be found here.  

In order to make the most of the support available, it is helpful if students take some time to reflect on what they might need. One option is to look at what support they currently have in place, such as counselling or professional relationships, and how to either continue it once they start HE, or what they can replace it with. Taking the time to help a young person identify what support they already have can increase self-awareness when it comes to their own circumstances. 

Key influencers, such as foster carers, can also offer continued support if they are able to maintain a relationship when their young person enters HE. This could be regular scheduled points of contact, or some local authorities have personal advisors who visit students a few times per year. In addition, being able to keep in touch during key times – such as exams, holidays, or important dates to the student personally – can help to minimise stress. 

In addition to their care-experienced status, students may have other factors that require additional support. There is, for example, a higher-than-average overlap in care-experienced and disabled students. In these instances, there will often be a separate team that students can approach to make sure all their needs are being met (e.g. in areas such as accessibility and accommodation).  

Making sure students have access to the support they are entitled to can be key to a successful time in HE and beyond. 


Dominic House, GHWY Care to Go Higher Delivery Officer