Access and Widening Participation


Students with caring responsibilities

UCL recognises that having caring responsibilities can have adverse effects on life and study plans and we are committed to increasing our intake of students from this group.

two people hugging in the sunset

UCL recognises that having caring responsibilities can have adverse effects on life and study plans. We acknowledge that young carers face many obstacles when accessing higher education and are committed to increasing our intake of students from this group. This page contains information about opportunities and support services available to students with caring responsibilities.

On this page:

What do we mean by "caring responsibilities" and young carers?

UCL’s definition of a young carer is someone who whose life is adversely affected by providing substantial unpaid care for a family member that they live with and who is unable to manage without this support. 

Young carers may support a family member who has a chronic illness, a physical disability, a mental health issue (e.g. depression), a cognitive impairment (e.g. dementia), an addiction (to alcohol and drugs) or any other health-related condition(s).

Caring responsibilities can vary significantly, but are likely to include helping with everyday tasks such as cooking and housework, providing physical and/or emotional care, and helping someone with their medication. 

Access UCL 

Access UCL is our contextual offer scheme for applicants from some groups that are underrepresented at UCL. Access UCL eligible applicants that are successful in receiving an offer from UCL will receive an offer that is lower than the standard entry requirements for the programme.

If you are a young carer, you may be eligible for Access UCL.

For Access UCL eligibility purposes, we define a young carer as someone whose life is adversely affected by providing substantial care for a parent/guardian that they live with and who has a chronic illness or condition.

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be aged under 21 on their first day at UCL.
  2. Have attended or be attending a UK state school for A Levels, or equivalent qualifications. 
  3. Caring responsibilities must be substantial and ongoing. 

Please make sure you tick the ‘young carer’ box on your UCAS form. The Access UCL team will need to verify your current young carer status before a decision is made on your application.  You can find out more on the Access UCL webpage.

Events and activities

We welcome students with caring responsibilities who attend a UK state school or college to apply to any of our widening participation activities, as long as you also meet any other criteria. To make sure we can identify you and give your application additional consideration, please make sure to tick the box confirming that you are a 'young carer.'  For full details of our targeting criteria please see our Who we work with page.

Additionally, we do offer some activities specifically targeted at young people with caring responsibilities:

  • Experience UCL is an exciting opportunity for Year 12 or 13 students, currently studying at a UK state school or college, to visit UCL and learn about life as a student: you will have the opportunity to spend a day with two current undergraduate students, go on a tour of the campus, and seek advice from UCL staff on topics such as applying to university, support services available and financial support. Further details and the application form can be found on the Experience UCL webpage.

The UCAS application -  Three reasons to 'tick the box' 

For 2023 entry UCAS has introduced a new section in the application so you can share more information about your circumstances with the university or college that you are applying to – including whether you are a young carer. 

When completing your UCAS application, you will notice that there is a question asking if you have any caring responsibilities. Here are three reasons why it’s a good idea to answer “yes” and disclose your caring responsibilities in your UCAS application.

  1. Your chosen universities can connect you to the support you’re entitled to. If you have caring responsibilities, you may be eligible to a range of practical support in higher education, if you want it. Ticking the “yes” box in the UCAS application is a quick and easy way to let your chosen universities know that you would like to know more about any additional support they can offer, and they may get in touch with the details. 
  2. Admissions staff can consider your achievements and potential in context. Universities are aware that people with caring responsibilities may have had an adverse impact on their life and their education. Disclosing your experience of caring for someone else will help admissions staff consider your achievements ‘in context’. 
  3. The information you share about your caring responsibilities is confidential. It is treated confidentially and will only be shared with those who would be involved in supporting you.

It’s important to point out that your decision to tick “yes” will not negatively impact on a university’s decision to offer you a place. Universities want to make you aware of all the support available to you, so that you can choose to access the services that you need to ensure your experience of university is the best it can be.

Further information for applicants with caring responsibilities can be found on this page of UCAS website.

Support available at UCL

If you have applied to UCL, or you are currently studying at UCL, and would like to learn more about the various forms of support UCL has to offer young carers, then please visit the Student Support and Wellbeing webpage. If you have any questions or concerns about the support on offer, or would just like to speak to find out more, you can also get in touch with the team via student.wellbeing@ucl.ac.uk or 020 7679 0100.

If you don't feel you quite fit the definition of a young carer but have caring responsibilities, then please get in touch with the Student Support and Wellbeing team who will be happy to discuss what support they can offer. 

Other sources of information and support

  • The Carers Trust websiteup to date resources and advice on anything from legal support and knowing your rights to wellbeing and mental health support. 
  • The Children's Society also has lots of useful information and a website specifically for young carers called Include
  • Sidekick is a confidential helpline for young carers aged 13 to 18 - and up to 25 for those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
  • If a young adult carer is struggling with their responsibilities they can undergo a carer’s assessment to see what might make their life easier in terms of practical help and assistance, advice, and financial assistance.
  • The NHS has useful guidance on the rights that a young carer has access to.
  • If someone in your family has a life-threatening illness, Hope Support Services can help. Visit their website for more information or watch their video. You might also be interested in watching Ben’s story.