Accessing higher education can be an im portant marker of success for young people,
yet research estimates that only around 12 percent of care leavers go on to study at university. In a climate of ‘widening participation’ in which universities encourage inclusion and student diversity, this research invited care experienced students to share their journeys
through care and their transitions to university life. This report focuses particularly on the
issues affecting care experienced students in their journey to and through university. The
recommendations at the end of this report highlight the steps that universities can take
in order to support their students through this transition and improve outcomes for their care
Findings in this report are based on the views and experiences of 234 care experienced
students in universities across England and Wales. The project team continues to
work alongside a steering group of three care experienced university students,
whose advice and insights have shaped the research design and methodology. Ongoing
engagement with our steering group enables continual reflection within the research
process, ensuring that this report emphasises the voice of those with care experience.
Data was generated in two phases. We conducted in-depth interviews with 42 care
experienced students from four universities to explore the factors that promoted access
to higher education and supported a positive transition to university life. We sought the
views of a larger sample of care experienced students via an online survey in order to
explore the issues raised by interview participants with a wider cohort. The survey
was distributed to care experienced students in 29 universities; 192 students responded.
Those who participated self-identified as care experienced and were accessed via widening
participation teams in their own universities.