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Care Experienced and Estranged Student Support

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Care Experienced and Estranged Student Support

Here at UCO we are passionate about assisting care experienced students in accessing higher education and offer a range of support options right through from application, to graduation and beyond. We specialise in working with students who want to study with us from a variety of backgrounds and approach each application individually, looking closely at how we can support you as an individual.

Application and Transition Support

UCO offers a named single point of contact for students who are care experienced or estranged (See Who to Contact).

Upon direct application and through UCAS, if an applicant discloses they are a care leaver or care experienced then this information is forwarded to the named contact, who will then organise an Initial Assessment meeting for the applicant with a member of the wider support team. This meeting will begin the process of transition and ensure the correct support is in place prior to beginning study here at UCO. Throughout the transition process, applicants will be given opportunities to familiarise themselves with the campus, support teams and academic staff.  

Health and Wellbeing Support

Our dedicated Health and Wellbeing Coordinator can offer support with mental health issues, accessing counselling and general emotional wellbeing. We also have our dedicated wellbeing space, the Wellbeing Hub, where students can access support informally through our Accessibility and Wellbeing Assistant. Here, we offer crisis support, general wellbeing support and the opportunity to participate in a range of group activities.

Learn more about our student support services >

Financial Support

At UCO we offer a range of financial support based upon your own personal circumstances.

Learn more about our financial support for students >

What Does Care Experienced Mean?

The Office for Students (OfS) have defined the circumstances of being in care as being where ‘…a local authority / Health and Social Care Trust has obligations to provide for, or share, the care of a child or young person under 16 years of age where parent(s) or guardian(s) for whatever reason are prevented from providing them with a suitable accommodation or care. A child is ‘looked after’ if he or she is provided with accommodation or if they are subject to certain provision imposed by the system.’ Care Leaver includes all students who are currently recognised by their local authority as a care leaver and as such are eligible for statutory support. Care experienced includes all students who can be reasonably verified as having been in care at any stage up to the age of 18. This includes those who were adopted (from care) before the age of 18. (HESA, 2023)

Office for Students Information (Care Experienced) >

What Does Estranged Mean?

UCO also recognises students who are estranged from their families and offers specific support for these students.

To be recognised as an estranged student you must be:

  • Up to 25 years of age.
  • Studying without the support and approval of a family network.
  • Have no contact with biological or adoptive family members for a significant period of time (12 months or more).

Office for Students Information (Estranged Students >

Estranged students don’t have the same legal protections as care leavers. Local authorities have no statutory responsibility for their welfare.

Who to Contact

UCO Named Single Point of contact, email:
Laura Macmillan, Head of Student Support and Wellbeing Services

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