The outlook for young people leaving local authority care in the UK is uncertain. Recent figures show that 41% of care leavers aged 19 to 21 are NEET (not in employment, education or training), compared to 12% of the general youth population.*
The challenges faced by care leavers are considerably higher than those faced by the majority of students, even when they make it to university. Kingston University is committed to helping these young people succeed. We have a unique programme, KU Cares, to attract local authority care leavers to university and support them through the application process, during their time at university and through graduation into the world of work. We have built a tried-and-tested package of financial and pastoral support including an outreach programme, a bursary, a priority place in halls of residence, one-to-one contact and a calendar of social events and specialist support.
In 2021 we were proud to celebrate 15 years of KU Cares! Read more about the impact we've made in that time.
Our focus, individual approach and financial package means that a significant proportion of all the care leavers who attend higher education are here at Kingston University.
"I was in care for about a year when I was about 1 year old, and then I was adopted with my two biological sisters when I was 2 into a very big family. I stayed in that family for about 14 years but for reasons out of my control the adoption broke down and we all ended up back into care when I was 16.
Because I was a bit older, I was out into semi-independence, and was left to support myself. In my adopted family I was always encouraged to go to university but now that I no longer had their support, I didn't think it was possible. Without KU Cares, I would have struggled to go to university.
Kingston was one of the few universities to offer such a supportive package for care leavers and I don't think I would have gone to university if it wasn't for Kingston's KU Cares fund. I am now in my second year of adult nursing and loving it!
The year-round accommodation is one of the best aspects of the support. Being in care, you move around so much and are always packing up your things in bin bags, so it's great to be able to have somewhere that you know you can stay in all year round. You feel more settled when you know you don't have to pack up your things to move somewhere for a few months and then pack up your things again to move back, and this is helping me focus on my studies.
I also really love the fact that they have a graduation package where they give you gown and cap hire for free, a photography package and two free graduation tickets. This is really encouraging and as it is a cost a parent might usually cover - it feels nice that they want to support you in celebrating the achievement."
*Figures taken from: Department for Education, 2021, Children looked after in England including adoptions.