Scottish unis will offer guaranteed places to care leavers

They just need to meet the minimum entry requirements

Scottish universities will offer guaranteed places to students who have been in care at any point during their lives.

The 18 higher education institutions in Scotland will automatically offer undergraduate places to care leavers who meet their minimum entry requirements. The scheme applies to anyone who is currently in care or has been in care – regardless of for how long, or their age.

This comes after a recent survey by the Higher Education Policy Institute found that 72 per cent of students think that university admissions should take applicants' backgrounds into account.

It was revealed that out of the 72,000 children in care in the UK, just six per cent of them will go on to attend university.

The figure is even lower in Scotland, with just four per cent of care leavers going to uni, compared to 40 per cent of school leavers.

The definition of "care leaver" covers those who have been in residential care, home supervision, foster care, and those who have been adopted.

The new national policy is one of many schemes introduced in Scotland to widen access for care leavers. The minimum entry requirements have been lowered for students in care, and the Scottish government provides a support grant for care leavers worth £8,100.

Scottish students attending national universities do not have to pay tuition fees.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon is backing the move.

The principal of St Andrews University Sally Mapstone said: “This is a decisive and, I hope, catalytic step jointly taken by Scotland’s universities.

"It gives due recognition to the substantial achievement of people with experience of care who are successful in getting the grades for university, having overcome very challenging circumstances at a young age."

She added: “We hope it will enable more people with care experience to feel confident applying to university, knowing that their application is encouraged and will be supported."

The scheme is thought to be the first of its type in the world.

Duncan Dunlop, the chief executive of "Who Cares?", a Scottish charity advocating for those in care said: “The fact that the guaranteed offer has no upper age limit demonstrates a commitment by universities to seek out ways to support care-experienced learners beyond the statutory requirement of age 26.”

He has welcomed the move, providing the universities also made an effort to encourage more applications from this demographic.

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