Learn with Care to Go Higher: Why support care-experienced students into HE?

Did you know that 43% of the general student population progresses to Higher Education (HE) but only 13% of care-experienced individuals do? (HEPI  – Breaking new ground understanding care-experienced students). This statistic was one of the first things that really drew my attention and made me want to work to support students who have spent time living with foster carers, in residential care, or in kinship care. 

The difference in educational outcomes is staggering. What makes the statistic even more astounding is that care-experienced young people are more likely to end up receiving a custodial prison sentence than studying in HE, which can be due to factors like excessive surveillance in care and incidents that would not be reported in a family situation being reported in a care environment.  

Graduating from HE is considered to be the first time in a care-experienced person’s life when their life chances are equal to those of non-care-experienced people with the same result from HE. Yet despite this, challenges can continue after graduation due to accommodation and support networks being less accessible. 

The impact that HE can have on a young person’s life cannot be underestimated. This can include career progression, stability in accommodation, and finding a supportive social network. That is why Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) works with key influencers of care-experienced young people to support informed educational choices through, among other things, our Care to Go Higher CPD programme. 

It is estimated that 60% of care-experienced students receive no information about how their care-experience relates to HE (UCAS). This includes information about contextual admissions, support options, or who to contact to discuss support in HE. As a result of this, students are not necessarily taking up all the support put in place by HE providers, local authorities and charities. As key-influencers, being prepared to have those conversations can make sure those opportunities are not missed. This is one area in which our Care to Go Higher programme can help to offer support and increased understanding. 

Care-experienced students are 179% more likely to study a Health & Social Care related subject when compared to the general student population (Rowley, E. 14 March 2024. Supporting Care-Experienced People into Higher Education [PowerPoint presentation]. UCAS Webinar). This could be due to positive experiences they had with people in the sector, such as social workers or personal advisors. Alternately, they might feel they did not get the support they needed and want to be able to provide that support for others. Whatever the reason, keeping that in mind when offering advice to care-experienced young people could help them find the subjects they want to study. It is important not to push students in a particular direction but knowing that care-experienced students are more likely to study these subjects means you can be better prepared to offer advice on them should it be what a young person wants to study. 

These statistics help to give an understanding of why the work done by GHWY, HE providers, charities, local authorities and other organisations is so important. Giving care-experienced young people the tools they need to beat the odds and make the educational choices that are right for them is something we can all be proud to be working towards. 

Further information 

Find out more about some of the challenges facing care-experienced students and things they should keep in mind when making decisions about HE in this series of blogs.


Dominic House, GHWY Care to Go Higher Delivery Officer