Only around 12 per cent of those with care experience go on to study at university, compared with about 50 per cent of the general population. We worked with care experienced students on a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust to explore the barriers that care leavers face in accessing university, and the support needed to help them succeed. A total of 234 care experienced students shared their perspectives on leaving care, applying to university and transitioning to university life.

In our first findings report, participants shared their sense of achievement at making it to university under difficult circumstances, and the challenges they faced on arrival. From financial issues, struggles with accommodation and difficulty navigating university support systems, care-experienced students found that their journey through higher education was not always smooth. Alongside this, we heard about the value of having a dedicated care leaver contact within the university; with the time and expertise to ensure they received the support they needed.

This short film captures our key findings and the experiences of the students who took part in the research. It introduces our 15 recommendations for universities.


Ellis, K. and Johnston, C. 2019. Pathways to University from Care: Findings Report One. Available at

Pathways to University from Care [Film] Available at


Claire Johnston

Katie Ellis  @DrKatieEllis

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