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Higher education providers unite to support care-experienced students in West Yorkshire


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Higher Education (HE) providers across West Yorkshire - including the University of Bradford - have developed a collaborative response to support care-experienced students.

The 13 institutions have committed to encouraging prospective students to tick the UCAS care experienced box, where appropriate, in their applications.

This collaborative approach has led to sharing the broader definition of care-experienced, which is more inclusive of the range of care settings students may have experienced.

These include where students will have spent time living with foster carers under local authority care, in residential care, looking after at home under a supervision order, or in kinship care with relatives or friends, either officially or informally without local authority support at any stage of their life.

The University of Bradford has long supported care experienced students. In 2021, it  became one of the first institutions in the country to be awarded a new quality mark from  National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL), recognising its support of students who have been in the care system.

Professor Zahir Irani, Deputy-Vice-Chancellor: “We are committed to improving social mobility and to increasing opportunity, particularly for students whose personal circumstances may make it challenging for them to fulfil their potential.

“We are proud to support this campaign, which will help promote opportunities available to care leavers, whilst also enabling them to consider higher education.”

New initiative

The new initiative is led by Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY), a partnership of 13 providers – hosted by the University of Leeds – working together to reduce long-standing inequalities in access to, success in and progression from HE.

GHWY supports its member-funded institutions with their Access and Participation Plan activity, covering collaborative activity to reduce inequalities in HE.

GHWY represents a collaboration of 13 institutions including: Bradford College, The University of Bradford, University Centre Calderdale, The University of Huddersfield, Kirklees College, Leeds Conservatoire, The University of Leeds, Leeds Arts University, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds College of Building, University Centre Leeds, Leeds Trinity University and University Centre Wakefield at Heart of Yorkshire Education Group.

Professor Jane Owen-Lynch, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) at The University of Huddersfield and Chair of GHWY, said: “We are delighted that all of Go Higher West Yorkshire’s member institutions are working together to use this common definition of ‘care experienced’. This will be incredibly helpful for care-experienced students navigating what can be a complex system, and ensure that those in need of support are better able to get access to it.”

By adopting this wider definition of care experienced, students will be able to receive support from the institution that they have applied to.

This month the campaign to tick the care experienced box when applying for high education is taking place across the thirteen institutions and is endorsed by students who have been through the process.   

Case study

Aimee Brennan with Professor Shirley Congdon

Aimee Brennan, picture above, who graduated this summer with a BA (Hons) in Criminology and Criminal Behaviour at the University of Bradford, said: "Bradford champions care leavers. If you are a care leaver like me, make sure you read the University website to see what they do specifically to support care leavers, and ask when you visit.

“On my application there was a box to tick, and it explained clearly who and what a care leaver is.

“The care leavers team at Bradford have helped me so much, even with things like learning how to budget my money, and about mortgages and tax.”

Read her full story here.

Further Information

For more information, please contact Rebecca Hurrey in the University of Leeds Press Office.

Picture Credit: University of Leeds.

Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) is an organisation hosted by the University of Leeds and is a core part of educational engagement.