Care leaver university scholarship scheme opens

Care leavers will be able to benefit from three years of free accommodation as part of an initiative designed to help support them through university.

The scheme, run by the Unite Foundation, is available to under-25s who are care leavers, or estranged from their family, and have a place at one of 28 participating universities. A total of 70 places are on offer for the 2017/18 academic year.

"Too few young people estranged from their families or leaving care realise their full potential at university," Unite Foundation manager Helen Arber said.

"We want to change that. A Unite Foundation scholarship means a rent-free university home for three years of degree studies."

"It also brings other benefits, such as work placements and activities that support successful study and future careers."

Accommodation will be provided by Unite Students, the student accommodation management and development firm that launched the foundation five years ago.

The inclusion of 28 universities almost trebles the foundation's reach, having previously offered accommodation at 10. So far 179 students have benefitted from their scholarships.

Harvey Gallagher, chief executive of the Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers and a trustee of the foundation said: "The young people in care and care leavers I have worked with over many years have told me how daunting it can be to even think about moving on to higher education.

"If you have an uncertain family home, nowhere to return to during vacation and the prospect of a taking on a significant loan, then you are unlikely to even plan for higher education, no matter how able or determined you are.

"The support offered by the Unite Foundation really is a lifeline for those young people who, with the right help and support, can achieve great things through university."

Universities taking part include Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Bristol, Bournemouth University and Kings College London.

Applications need to be submitted before the closing date of 31 May.

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