At ARU, we're committed to supporting our students who are Care Leavers and those who are Care Experienced throughout your higher education experience.
This page tells you more about the support available to you before you apply, and throughout your time with us.
The term ‘Care Leaver’ comes from The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000: a Care Leaver is someone who has been in the care of the Local Authority for a period of 13 weeks or more spanning their 16th birthday and is aged 25 or under. At ARU, we also include students who are aged 16-25 who have been referred to a Foyer by their Local Authority.
‘Care Experienced’ refers to anyone who has been or is currently in care or from a looked after background at any stage of their life, no matter how short, including adopted children who were previously looked after. Care may have been provided in a number of ways or settings such as foster care, kinship care, residential care or through being looked after at home with a supervision requirement.
The support available at ARU does vary slightly depending on whether you are a Care Leaver or Care Experienced, but please be assured that you won’t be left on your own.
Whether you are just starting to think about Higher Education, seeking advice about Student Finance or writing a successful Personal Statement, the Outreach Team are here to help.
Our Outreach Team is made up of:
We work with Student Ambassadors with a care background to help us enhance our School and College events – you too could join our Student Ambassador Scheme and work for the university!
If you are a Care Leaver or have a Care Experienced background, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any advice and support, to book on to an event/activity, or to find out more information in regards to anything to do with Higher Education.
Our Outreach Team offer a variety of activities and events which are open to all, as well as activities which are exclusive to care leaver/care experienced students in Years 10 and 12. Some of these events will need to be booked by a teacher or carer, and some you can book yourself.
We also visit schools and colleges to talk to students about applying to university and the support on offer. Find out more on our Schools and Colleges pages.
If you would like to attend an event, help with filling in your UCAS application or information and advice about anything related to higher education study, please email email@example.com
We welcome enquiries from carers, personal advisors, support workers and teachers who are helping young people to transition to higher education. We run an annual conference for foster carers, designated members of staff and other care professionals. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
It is extremely important that you tick the ‘in care’ box on your UCAS application to let us know that you have been in care for three months or more. This does not put you at a disadvantage, in fact, it puts you at an advantage as we will be in touch to advise you of all the support that is available to you once you start with us, should you want it – we do appreciate that everyone if different!
You may get special consideration in the admissions process and you will have access to an Outreach Officer who can support you through the whole process, including preparing for interviews and submitting portfolios, in order to ensure that you are as prepared as you can be when applying to us.
If you would like any advice or support, please email email@example.com
When your status changes from an applicant to a student, the Student Experience team will take over as your point of contact if you are studying at one of our core campuses (Cambridge, Chelmsford or Peterborough) and we are here to support you throughout your studies.
You can contact us directly using our designated email address firstname.lastname@example.org and you can find out more about the support we can connect you with using the drop-downs below.
Our team are your point of contact throughout your studies whether you are a Care Leaver or are Care Experienced – we will check in with you during your first six weeks at ARU and will agree what you would like our contact to look like going forward (for example, a monthly phone call or email check in, a less regular check in, or us simply emailing you any updates to the support).
We will give you information and advice about a range of support and can refer you to other specialist services if relevant and with your consent. We are here to support you through your ARU journey and you can always get in touch with us using our dedicated email address email@example.com. We will be happy to help.
The Student Experience Team is made up of:
Student Experience Manager
Student Experience Coordinator,
Student Experience Coordinator,
Debbie Barker (Student Money Adviser) also supports the Student Experience Team to offer Care Leavers and Care Experienced students advice on any funding related questions. You can contact her using our firstname.lastname@example.org email address too.
Student Money Adviser
If you have self-disclosed on your UCAS form to let us know that you’re leaving local authority care, or you or your social services team contacted our Outreach team directly, this information will be passed on to us so we can support you as you start your studies at ARU.
When you register to study at ARU, you will be asked whether you are a Care Leaver. If you say yes to this question, our team will receive this data and will make contact with you (please note that this can take up to six weeks but if you would like support sooner, please do email us on email@example.com)
We know that some students don’t feel comfortable declaring that they are a Care Leaver/Care Experienced at the start of the studies as they are worried they will be treated negatively - please be assured that this is not the case at ARU. However, if you haven’t told us your situation in the ways outlined above and would now like to, please email our team on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact you to discuss the support available. We would love to hear from you!
Care Leavers only
If you’ve been in local authority care on or after your 16th birthday, you'll be eligible for University-managed accommodation throughout your studies in Cambridge and Chelmsford. These pages contain the list of University-managed accommodation available to you in Cambridge (under ‘our properties’) and Chelmsford.
As a Care Leaver you are also eligible for 365-day accommodation within university managed accommodation throughout your studies (regardless of whether you are a September or January starter), however this will be made up of two contracts each year – for example for a September starter, this would be made up of an initial let (September-June) and a summer let (June-September). Although you may be required to move rooms between lets, please be assured that you will not be left without accommodation at any point.
To ensure you are guaranteed a room in your first year, you need to apply for accommodation by 14 July, notify Residential Services that you are a Care Leaver and provide the relevant evidence, and have firmly accepted ARU as your first choice. If you speak to Residential Services after this date, we will do our best to accommodate you, however we cannot guarantee a place in ARU-managed accommodation in your first year.
To notify Residential Services of your Care Leaver status, you can either contact the team directly (for the Cambridge campus please email email@example.com and for the Chelmsford campus: firstname.lastname@example.org) or you can contact the Student Experience Team on email@example.com who can support you with this.
If you have any questions about accessing accommodation as a Care Leaver at ARU, both the Residential Service Team and the Student Experience Team would be happy to help.
If you are struggling to pay the £300 to secure your ARU accommodation please contact Debbie on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01245 684288 to discuss if we can defer payment until you receive your student funding. If you are planning on moving into the private sector, we are unable to move the due date for any deposits but in exceptional circumstances we may be able to pay any Care Leaver’s Bursary early.
Care Leavers and Care Experienced students
Our Residential Service can also assist you to secure accommodation in the private rented sector.
For more information please email:
To help support your transition from being an applicant and your ARU point of contact being the Outreach team to being a full ARU student and your ARU point of contact being the Student Experience Team, we collaboratively arrange an annual pre-arrival transition day. This is designed to introduce you to our team, explain the support that is available and to link you up with other students at ARU who are Care Leavers/Care Experienced.
For September 2020, this was delivered online and the programme included:
If you ticked the box on your UCAS form, you will be automatically invited to the event running just before you start at ARU. If you didn’t tick the box on your UCAS form but are soon to start your studies with ARU and would like to be included in our next event, please email us on email@example.com
Students supported by their Local Authority as a Care Leaver or those who have resided in a Foyer prior to starting the course may be eligible for the Care Leavers Bursary via the Learning Support Fund. This is a grant of up to £1,500 (£2,000 in final year) which can be applied for once you start your course at ARU. For further information, eligibility criteria and details on how to apply, please visit our Care Leaver and Foyer (Supported Accommodation) page.
Care Leavers only
At ARU, we have a Student Money Advice Service who can run a “Money MOT” with you to check that you are accessing all of the funding you are entitled to, from your Local Authority and Student Finance England, etc. For example:
Care Leavers starting university should receive a £2,000 Higher Education Bursary from their Local Authority to help with the costs of university life. This will usually be paid in instalments over the duration of your course. All local authorities must pay a bursary to Care Leavers who go on to higher education.
Some local authorities choose to provide further support in excess of this £2,000. This can be in the form of help with housing costs, a weekly allowance, or support towards tuition fees. You are advised to contact your local authority to discuss what support is available and in what form, as this varies between authorities.
The £2,000 higher education bursary is available to any Care Leaver who started a course of Higher Education on or after September 2008 and before their 25th birthday.
Care Leavers only
Full-time students under 25 are either classed as independent or dependent on their parents'/legal guardian's household income. Students who are married or have dependent children at the start of their course are automatically classed as independent.
Under 25s are usually classed as dependent but, if evidence is supplied that shows that you have spent time in care or are estranged from your parents, you can be assessed as independent which usually means maximum funding.
If you have studied before in Higher Education, you should contact the Student Money Advice Service to discuss the previous study regulations and how this may impact you. Sometimes if you had to leave your previous course due to “Compelling Personal Reasons” you can be granted additional funding.
For further information on what funding is available please see the our Help with finances pages.
Care Leavers only
If you are struggling to pay the £300 to secure your ARU accommodation please contact Debbie on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01245 684288 to discuss if we can defer payment until you receive your student funding. If you are planning on moving into the private sector we are unable to move the due date for any deposits but in exceptional circumstances we may be able to pay any Care Leaver’s Bursary early.
Care Leavers and Care Experienced students
We also have Hardship Funds if you find yourself struggling financially during university, Care Leavers and estranged students are a priority for these. We also have additional funds to help with the cost of diagnostic testing and any costs associated with Disabled Students Allowance, help if you have unpaid placements as part of your course, grants for overseas experiences including study abroad or field trips, as well as an Internship Bursary.
The Student Money Advice Service can advise you on what funding is available, how to apply and what you may receive as well as discussing money management to help make your money go further. Please contact the Student Money Advice Service by emailing email@example.com or by calling 01245 686700
In January 2021, the Student Experience Team launched the Peer Support Network for Care Leavers and Care Experienced students at ARU. The peer network is called 'Stronger Together' as voted for by the members of the group.
If you would like to find out more or join the group, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Employability Team are available to you throughout your studies at ARU and for three years after you graduate. The support they offer includes:
We are committed to supporting our Care Leavers and our Care Experienced students fully throughout their time with us. Therefore, we hired three Care Leaver interns (current students who are Care Leavers/Care Experienced themselves) to work with us in Summer 2021 to review the support on offer, suggest routes forward and to run their own projects to further this work. This has been a really exciting time and has shaped what our support looks like going forward.
One of the key outcomes was the following video written and directed by one of our interns to help raise awareness across staff at ARU:
We are committed to supporting our Care Leavers and Care Experienced students and are keen to work with current students to continually improve our offering. If you have any ideas of other areas you would like us to explore, please email us on email@example.com
Care Leavers only
At ARU, we have a team of Student Ambassadors and Senior Student Ambassadors that support prospective students who are thinking about applying to ARU or make informed decisions about their future.
Our ambassadors are responsible for supporting our on campus and virtual events by giving an insight into life as a student at ARU. This role is paid and flexible to fit around your studies and supports you in developing your skills in public speaking, delivering subject sessions and communicating with a range of students from different backgrounds.
We are seeking Care Leaver students to join our Care Leaver Ambassador team to help support students making their application to ARU and by creating a reassuring and encouraging transition to university. If you’re interested in becoming a Student Ambassador, register with ARU Temps and then email firstname.lastname@example.org
As well as the support specific to Care Leavers and Care Experienced students at ARU, you can also access all of the general support on offer to all students at ARU:
As well as the support available at ARU, there is also support available through various charities set up specifically for Care Leavers and Care Experienced people.