Care leavers

UCL is committed to supporting young people in care and those who have left a care environment, and 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. This guidance explains some of the specific help avaible to you if you are a care leaver or have experienced living in a care environment at some point in your life. We are committed to supporting students who come from a care leaving background while they’re at UCL and through our wide range of outreach activities.

We encourage you to access our activities and are also happy to arrange a visit to the UCL campus for care leavers. We can also arrange to talk about various aspects of university to groups off campus. If you are interested in arranging this, please contact Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW). 

On this page:

Personal support

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. Normally, you will meet with your Personal Tutor once a term but you can also see them on an appointment basis.

If you're a research student, your supervisory team will fulfil much the same function as a Personal Tutor.

Find out more about Personal Tutors.

We encourage you to access our activities and are also happy to talk to you about various aspects of university. If you are interested in arranging a time to talk with us about university life and support available, please contact Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW). 
UCL’s Transition Programme supports all new first-year undergraduate students in adapting to university life, assisting new students in dealing with the social, academic and personal issues that are specific to UCL. As a first-year student, you’ll be allocated a Transition Mentor, a second- or third-year student from your department of study. They will introduce themselves to you in your first week and mentor you during your first term, as you settle into university life.

Find out more about the Transition Programme.

Applying to Student Finance as a care leaver

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 a care leaver Student Finance will not use your parents' income to assess you for suport.

Student Finance define a care leaver 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 leaver you will be asked to send evidence that shows you were looked after, or have been given accommodation by, your LA. Usually you'll be asked to send a letter from your local council or care authority. This letter should confirm you:

  • were under the care of your LA
  • have now left the care of the LA
  • are a care leaver as defined in the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000

You'll only have to provide this evidence once at the start of your course.

Once Student Finance have given you 'care leaver status' you will be eligible for the maximum amount of maintenance loan for the duration of your course and will be eligible for additional bursaries 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 should contact your personal advisor, social worker or case worker. You can also check your local authority website for details of support that they might have for care leavers.

Financial support from UCL

The sources of support listed here, other than the Financial Assistance Fund, are for undergraduate students only.

Find out more about general student funding

Care Leaver Bursary

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

Find out more about the Care Leaver Bursary

UCL Undergraduate Bursary

UK undergraduate students who are assessed as care leavers by Student Finance (see above) will be automatically assessed as being eligible for the maximum UCL Undergraduate Bursary of £2,500 for each year of study.

Find out more about the UCL Undergraduate Bursary.

Unite Foundation Scholarship

A separate scholarship is available from Unite. This scheme offers scholars free accommodation at UCL for 3 years (for 365 days of the year) in a designated Unite Students property. 

Find out more about the Unite Foundation Scholarship.

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.

Find out more about the Financial Assistance Fund.


UCL will provide 365-day accommodation for care leavers in their first year and, if needed, 365-day accommodation will also be provided for subsequent years of study.

If you need 365-day accommodation and/or accommodation beyond your first year at UCL, please contact Natalie Humphrey (designated contact at UCL for care leavers) by email or through the askUCL student enquiries system

Care Experienced and Estranged Students’ Guide  

Information for UCL students and applicants who are care leavers or estranged from family.

Please note that this guide was correct at time of publishing in December 2018.


Further information


Become is a charitable organisation who provides support for young people in care and care leavers.

Find out more about Become.

Buttle UK 

Buttle UK is a charitable organisation providing grant aid to vulnerable young people to provide the best possible opportunity in meeting their educational needs.

Find out more about Buttle UK.