Care experienced students
We’re committed to ensuring that care experienced students can access and succeed at the University of Bristol. From thinking about applying through to graduation we can offer support and guidance to help you have a successful university experience.
If you’re considering university you can get in contact with Zaynab Hamdi, who can offer advice throughout the application process. We run events to help you and your support network find out more about university, and prioritise applications from care experienced students in our outreach projects.
Current University of Bristol students can contact Maria Tottle, our dedicated care experienced student contact, who can offer 1:1 advice, support and coaching throughout your time here. Maria can signpost you to additional support around the University and help you to work through any challenges or concerns you may have.
If you have been brought up by a relative or friend through a formal arrangement (e.g. fostering or Special Guardianship Order) – you are considered as living ‘in care’ and are typically eligible for support as a care leaver.
If your kinship care arrangements are informal (i.e. you are not considered ‘in care’) you may still be eligible for support as an estranged student.
Support from your Local Authority
If you have spent any time in care after your 16th birthday, then it is very likely that you will be entitled to support from Children’s Services as a care leaver, up until at least your 25th birthday.
However, it can be very complicated to know exactly what support you should be getting from Children’s Services.
Events and support for current students
Maria, our dedicated care leaver and estranged student contact working with undergraduate students, is able to provide you with support and guidance. She is contactable by email, Microsoft Teams or telephone. Maria will be sending regular updates, as well as opportunities to stay in touch with her and with each other. To make sure you receive these emails please complete our support for care leavers and estranged students form.
During the year we have some events specifically for you. The first few are noted below, after this we also have monthly catch up sessions.
Friday 23 September, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
This one-hour drop-in session offers the chance to chat with staff and meet other students who are care experienced or are estranged from their families. You’ll be able to find out about the support available at university and take a short (optional) campus tour.
Monday 26 September, 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm at Senate House Marketplace Café
Join Maria for a free lunch, where you can ask questions and get to know other students.
20 – 22 September
During Welcome there will be a Welcome Village on campus where you’ll be able to find live performances, stalls and street food, as well as information about support services. Maria will be at the Student Inclusion Team stand on Tuesday and Thursday so do come and say hello!
If you can’t attend these events, there will be other opportunities to meet throughout the year. You can also meet with Maria individually if you would like to. Make sure you’ve signed up for the monthly bulletin to keep up to date with events and opportunities for you throughout the year.
If you have spent three months or more in local authority care, you will be eligible for a contextual offer. Our contextual offer is a grade reduction of up to two grades below the standard entry requirements. Once here, data shows that our contextual offer students achieve above average academically. If you’re at school or college in Bristol you may also be eligible for our Bristol Scholars programme.
Gateway to Medicine/Dentistry/Veterinary Science eligibility
Our 'Gateway to...' courses are aimed at students who have the potential to become doctors, dentists or vets, but do not meet the academic entry criteria to apply directly to our five-year undergraduate courses.
Care leavers are normally eligible to be independently assessed for student finance. This means that your household income will not be taken into account when your student finance is calculated. If your independent household income is deemed to be below £25,000, you will qualify for maximum financial support. More information is available here.
Julia Cannon in our Student Funding office can give advice and guidance throughout the student finance application process, including on how to apply for independent status with Student Finance England/Wales/Scotland/NI.
Bristol Standalone Bursary
Our Bristol Standalone Bursary offers care leavers (under the age of 25) £1,500 for each year of study (excluding NHS funded years).
Further financial support
The University offers a number of bursaries including the University of Bristol bursary, take a look at what you might be eligible for using our Financial support search tool. Further information about funding your studies is available on our Fees and Funding page.
You may be eligible for some support from your Local Authority. Please contact your Local Authority Leaving Care Services in order to find out more about the funding and support they have available for you.
The Eagle House Education Trust offers financial help for students who have lived in care in Somerset.
University of Bristol Accommodation Bursary
The University of Bristol Accommodation Bursary offers up to £1,050 off first year accommodation in University-owned properties for eligible students. As a care leaver, you will need to contact the Student Funding Office once you know you’re coming to Bristol, so they can apply bursary to you.
Unite Foundation Scholarship
Having somewhere of your own to call home matters; the University of Bristol is delighted to be working with the Unite Foundation, supporting students who have previously been in care or are estranged from their parents. The Unite Foundation Scholarship provides recipients with free en-suite accommodation in Unite House or Orchard Heights. With the Unite Foundation scholarship, you’ll have accommodation and bills covered for up to 3 years of study. That includes all through the holidays too, so you don’t have to wonder where to go during reading weeks or over Christmas or summer. You can even stay the summer after you graduate to plan your next move. You can find more information about the scholarship and how to apply on the Unite Foundation Scholarship webpage. We recommend you read through their information and guidance document before applying.
For those not in receipt of the Unite Foundation Scholarship, the Accommodation Office offers self-catered accommodation in Bristol throughout the summer for incoming and current University of Bristol students from £24 per night.
Help with guarantors
Most of our halls of residence do not require a deposit or for you to have a guarantor. If you’re living in private rented accommodation, the University has established a relationship with Housing Hand, a company that offer a fully comprehensive guarantor service available to all students.
If you are unable to find a co-signatory for your guarantor application, or the fees are a barrier for you, please get in touch with Maria (email@example.com) for help.
Wellbeing - where to get help
During your time as a student with us, you can contact Maria Tottle at any point in the year for wellbeing support. This might be for a chat to work through any challenges you may be facing or for 1:1 coaching. We have a range of support at the University which Maria can help you to access.
You are not on your own. There is always a friendly face and listening ear nearby. Find out about the services we have, what they do and how they can help you.
If you would like to talk to a current student before and during the first few months of university, peer mentoring is available for any first year undergraduate. The mentors are current students themselves and can answer any questions that you might have and help you settle into university life. You have the option to indicate a preference for a mentor who shares similar characteristics.
Care Leavers and estranged students’ network
The SU Care Leavers and Estranged Students Network was set up by students in 2019. To find out more about the network, their events and support on offer or to join this free network please see the SU Groups Webpage. Networks are an exciting way for students to build communities and create change through collective action. They are representative bodies that can lead campaigns, hold forums and organise social events.
Tea and cake events
Care leavers can meet students from similar backgrounds at events run by our dedicated staff contact.
For more information about the University's support for students from a care experience or background please contact our Care Experienced support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other than University support, there are also organisations that provide support and information for care leavers. These include: