New policy is world first for Scots care levers

Care leavers

The move will boost opportunities for care experienced young people 

25th July 2019 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Care leavers in Scotland are to be guaranteed university places in the first scheme of its kind in the world.  

An announcement by 18 universities and colleges has been backed by first minister Nicola Sturgeon as a way to create better opportunities for those who have lived in care at any point in their lives.  

Figures show that only 4% of care experienced school leavers go directly to university compared to 40% of the general school-leaving population.

About 2% of all children in Scotland are looked after or are on the child protection register.

A place will be automatically offered to applicants who meet an institution’s minimum entry requirements, which are lower for those who have been in care under a policy designed to widen access, with no upper age limit set.  

Duncan Dunlop, the chief executive of the Who Cares? Scotland, said: “The fact that the guaranteed offer has no upper age limit demonstrates a commitment by universities to seek out ways to support care-experienced learners beyond the statutory requirement of age 26.”

Sally Mapstone, the principal of St Andrews University, said the scheme was thought to be the first of its type in the world.

“This is a decisive and, I hope, catalytic step jointly taken by Scotland’s universities. It gives due recognition to the substantial achievement of people with experience of care who are successful in getting the grades for university, having overcome very challenging circumstances at a young age,” Mapstone said.

“We hope it will enable more people with care experience to feel confident applying to university, knowing that their application is encouraged and will be supported.

“It is important that all of Scotland’s universities have made this guarantee together. That should provide the greatest possible clarity and visibility of this change to people with care experience wherever they live in Scotland and wherever they want to study.”