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The University of Southampton
The Student HubSupport and wellbeing

Care Leavers

At the University of Southampton, we provide advice and offer support to care leavers from application to graduation. Going to university can be a daunting experience for many people and we understand that as someone who has experienced time in care, you may have different concerns to other students.

Care Leavers

We're here to help you throughout your course, whether it’s just to have a chat about how you're feeling or to discuss any concerns you might have about your application, finances, accommodation or your studies.

At the University we define a care leaver as a young person who has been in local authority care, including supported accommodation schemes such as Foyers or under a Special Guardianship Order, for 3 months or more since the age of 14.

If you have been brought up by another relative or someone other than your parents through a formal arrangement such as private fostering, kinship foster care or a Special Guardianship Order, you are usually considered as living ‘in care’ and are typically eligible for support as a care leaver, depending on your circumstances.

If your kinship care is through a private or informal family arrangement and you’ve been brought up by another relative without the involvement of children’s services, you are not considered to be ‘in care’ but you may still be eligible for support as an estranged student, depending on your circumstances.

If you don’t feel like the above definitions are applicable to you but wish to discuss what other support might be available, please feel free to contact us.



At the University of Southampton, we are passionate about supporting young people in care and care leavers and take a lifecycle approach to Widening Participation and Social Mobility. Our flagship programme Ignite Southampton allows us to offer sustained and sequential support to students from groups under-represented in higher education.

Born out of 10 year of excellent outcomes through our Access to Southampton (A2S) programme, Ignite your Journey, our strand for Year 12/13 students, is designed to support your university application, help develop the skills you'll need for study at a research led university and support your transition to higher education (HE). To find out more about the programme and how to apply, please click here.


We're committed to widening participation and ensuring that all students with the potential to succeed, regardless of their background, are encouraged to apply to study with us. Our admissions team will consider a student’s achievements and identify their potential to succeed in the context of their background and experience. Applications from care leavers will receive additional consideration and more information on what this means for you is available on our admissions pages.

We encourage all eligible students to tick the box on their UCAS application to let us know that they’ve been in care. This information will remain confidential and enables us to contact you before your arrival to detail all of the support specifically available to you and the evidence required to receive the Care Leaver & Estranged Student Bursary. 


The University’s Financial Support Package

Students leaving the care of their Local Authority are classed as independent by the Student Loans Company and are therefore entitled to the full university bursary.

The University’s Student Support Fund is designed to help should you find yourself in financial hardship at any point during your studies. Further information on eligibility and how to apply can be found here.

Care Leaver Bursary

In addition to the above support package, eligible students are also entitled to our Care Leaver & Estranged Student Bursary of £2,000. This is payable to you in two instalments, the first payment is made in November and the second is made in June. For more information on the eligibility criteria as well as the terms and conditions of the bursary, please click here.

Additionally, to aid in your transition to the University, eligible students in their first year of study are provided a Welcome Pack containing vouchers and useful information to help you settle in.

Local Authority Funding

You may also be eligible for some support from your Local Authority in the form of a Higher Education Bursary worth £2,000. Please contact your Local Authority Leaving Care Services or Personal Adviser in order to find out more about the funding and support they have available to you. If you require any assistance with this, please contact one of the designated care leaver contacts below.


Halls Accommodation

As part of our commitment, we guarantee that you have access to university halls accommodation for 365 days a year. You simply need to apply for a standard university accommodation contract, and your designated point of contact will discuss your requirements with you once you have submitted an application.

Further information on our halls can be found on the accommodation homepage.

Private Rented Accommodation

For those who don’t wish to live in university accommodation, we encourage you to search for properties on the Southampton Accreditation Scheme for Student Housing (SASSH) website.

This scheme, run in partnership between the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University and Southampton City Council, exists to ensure that all students have access to a supply of high quality, safe accommodation. Having been in operation now for over ten years, it’s helped thousands of Southampton students to find and rent a comfortable and well managed student home.


Designated Contacts

David Munn works for the Student Inclusion Team and is the University’s care leavers contact. If you need any advice or are experiencing difficulties and not sure who to contact, he will be happy to help you with any query you might have and, if necessary, direct you to the appropriate service to meet your needs. David can help ensure you have access to year round halls accommodation and provide assistance with applying and obtaining evidence for the University’s Care Leaver & Estranged Student Bursary. You can get in contact with David by emailing or on 023 8059 6815.

Michelle Fisher is an Adviser in the Students’ Union Advice Centre which gives independent and confidential support. The advisers are able to provide assistance regarding a number of areas including Student Finance, housing and academic issues. You can get in contact with Michelle by emailing or by calling 023 8059 2085.

Student Inclusion Team

The Student Inclusion Team are here to ensure every student feels supported and part of one engaged learning community. If you need any support or guidance just get in touch - the team are always happy to help – whether the issue involves academic, financial or emotional matters.


If you find yourself struggling with something whilst you're at University, then talking to someone about what is troubling you can make a big difference to how you feel; the Student Wellbeing team is available for you to speak to about any emotional, mental health or wellbeing issues. Contact the Student Hub, if you ever need to reach out to them.

Personal Academic Tutor & Student Office

If you have any concerns about your academic studies, your Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) is there to advise and support you with any issues, which may affect your studies. At the start of the year, we would encourage you to meet your PAT and if you feel comfortable, explain your situation so they are able to support you and your individual needs. 

If you are unsure how to contact your PAT, your Student Office can help put you in contact and/or arrange an appointment.

Your Student Office deals with the administrative aspects of your programme, including those relating to coursework, assessments and exams. If you are unable to attend any timetabled lectures or seminars for any reason, you may need to inform your Student Office.  You can find out how to contact your School’s Student Office here.

Advice & Tips

  • Ease your transition and prepare for University life by getting involved in Welcome Week, held each year before the start of Semester 1; collect your Student ID card and get involved in the many events and information sessions.
  • Download our official MySouthampton app onto your phone or tablet; this gives you easy access to your timetable, campus maps, university emails and more. 
  • As you settle in to university life take some time to familiarise yourself with your campus.
  • Everybody’s life and demands are different but managing your time effectively and making a plan that fits your study and home life commitments will help keep things on track.

Getting Involved

There are many ways to get involved with university life and many opportunities to meet new people; try to explore the opportunities available to you, as these can be a great way of developing a peer support network. 

Clubs and Societies

The University of Southampton Students’ Union has over 200 societies covering a wide range of interests; these are a great opportunity to meet new people and maybe even try something new.

University Activities & Events

The University and Students' Union put on a range of activities and events throughout the year. To stay up to date with everything that is happening on our campuses make sure to check SUSSED, the University and Students’ Union Events Calendars, as well as the University’s social media channels

Become a Student Ambassador

Becoming an ambassador is great way to both meet other student and learn new skills, all while earning money. We are always looking for enthusiastic and friendly students to become Student Ambassadors to help with events organised by our Recruitment and Outreach team.

Working as a student ambassador can be fun and varied, providing you with a huge range of exciting challenges and opportunities to get involved with, alongside your studies. Further information and how to apply can be found here.


Applying to external funding bodies can sometimes take longer than you expect. We recommend that you start looking to apply for Student Finance in February or March of the year you are starting university. To apply for the full level of funding you’re entitled to, you’ll need to supply some supporting evidence which usually consists of the following:

  • A letter from your Local Authority confirming that you were under their care and have now since left.
  • Are classed as a care leaver as defined in the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.

They’ll only have to provide this evidence once at the start of your course. If you personally need to send any further documentation, we recommend that you:

  • Make scanned copies or request duplicates of the information required.
  • Ask any referees to do the same should you require additional copies.
  • Always ask for your supporting statements on headed paper where possible.
  • Ensure they show a current and correct contact details for the operative to reach him/her if they have further questions.

We recommend that you send all of your supporting evidence together in the same envelope, with a covering letter which states your customer reference number. This will assist the individual assessing your application to understand your circumstances when they look into your case.

Helpful Resources

The following websites have some advice and tips which you may find useful.

The University cannot accept responsibility for external websites.

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