Care experienced students

UCL is committed to supporting young people in care and those who have left a care environment. We encourage students to apply to study at UCL and access the support available.

UCL recognises that when applying and entering higher education, young people in care can face particular difficulties that their peers are less likely to experience. The guidance below explains some of the specific help available to you if you are a care experienced student at UCL. 

If you are interested in applying to UCL as an undergraduate, we encourage you to have a look at our widening participation activities. Please also do have a look at the Experience UCL page for more information about our bespoke on-campus events for care experienced young people. 

On this page: 


Access UCL (contextual offers)

Care experienced students may be eligible for Access UCL, the university's contextual offer scheme. This means this if you are care experienced and made an offer by UCL, you may receive an offer that is lower than the standard entry requirements for the programme. 

For these purposes, care experienced is defined as someone who has been looked after by a local authority for three months in their life. The months do not need to be consecutive. If you are care experienced, please make sure you tick the 'time in care' box on your UCAS form so that the Admissions team can follow up with you. 

Care experienced applicants are eligible for Access UCL whether they have attended a UK state or independent school.

Student Finance

Undergraduate students from the UK who apply for loans from Student Finance usually have to provide their parents' income to receive the maximum amount of maintenance loan. However, if you are care experienced, Student Finance will not use your parents' income to assess you for support.

Student Finance defines a care experienced student as a young person who: 

  • Has been in the care of, or been given accommodation by, their Local Authority (LA) for a period of at least 13 weeks before the age of 16
  • Has not reconciled with their parents between leaving care and starting their course

When you apply for Student Finance loans as a care experienced student, you will be asked to send evidence that demonstrates you were looked after, or have been provided accommodation by, your LA. Usually, you will be asked to send a letter from your local council or care authority. This letter should confirm that you: 

  • Were under the care of your LA 
  • Have now left the care of the LA
  • Are care experienced as defined in the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000

Once Student Finance has given you 'care experienced' status, you will be eligible for the maximum amount of maintenance loan for the duration of your course. You will also be eligible for additional financial support from UCL (see below).

Financial support

From your local authority

Local councils and authorities often provide financial support to students who were in their care, who go on to attend university. Types of support could include an additional bursary or payment for accommodation. 

To apply for support, you could contact your personal adviser, social worker or caseworker. You can also check your local authority website for details of support they may have for care experienced students.

UCL undergraduate bursary

UK undergraduate students who are assessed as care experienced students by Student Finance (see above) will be automatically assessed as being eligible for the maximum UCL Undergraduate Bursary. This service is available to undergraduate students.

Care leaver bursary

UK undergraduate students who are assessed as care experienced students by Student Finance (see above) are eligible for the UCL Care Leaver Bursary of £1,000 for each year of study. This service is available to undergraduate students.

Financial assistance fund

Students in financial need may be able to access the Financial Assistance Fund. This is discretionary assistance for current UCL students who find themselves in unexpected financial difficulty. This service is available to undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Access Opportunity Scholarship

The Access Opportunity Scholarship is available to students who, due to their immigration status, are unable to access student loans via Student Finance. 


UCL will provide 365-day accommodation for estranged students in their first year and, if needed, 365-day accommodation for subsequent years of study.

If you need 365-day accommodation and/or accommodation beyond your first year at UCL, please contact the UCL Accommodation team. You can do so via askUCL or by email.

Rent Guarantor Scheme

If you are looking to rent privately, but struggling to find someone to act as a rent guarantor, the Rent Guarantor Scheme run by the Accommodation team may be able to support you.

Unite Foundation Scholarship

The Unite Foundation Scholarship provides care experienced and estranged students with free accommodation for up to three years of study.

Personal support 

UCL Student Success has a dedicated team who act as the key contact for undergraduate care experienced and estranged students.

The team is happy to be contacted by email from offer holder stage onwards if you have any questions about life at UCL. They also run regular meetups for care experienced and estranged students on campus.

Personal tutors

When you arrive at UCL, your department will assign you to a Personal Tutor. Their main role is to advise you on academic matters, but you can also discuss non-academic matters with them in confidence. 

Student Support and Wellbeing

Based in your department, Student Advisers are available to support you in your first year (and second year - please check their webpage) as you transition to university life.

If you would like support with your mental health, please book an appointment with the Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing team via askUCL.

Family Action Mentoring

The mentoring programme Family Action: Friendship Works is available to all UCL undergraduate UK care experienced students. For more information, please email the Student Success Office.

Transition Mentor Programme

All first year undergraduate students are assigned a second or third year mentor from their department as part of the Transition Mentor Programme. They can assist you with social, academic and personal issues relating to university life.

Careers Extra

Estranged students are eligible to join Careers Extra, which is a programme of enhanced careers support for undergraduates from underrepresented groups.