At the University of Cumbria, we want to ensure that all care leavers who want to are able to access higher education, and that they can participate effectively in all areas of university life.

Award-winning Support

We were incredibly proud to be awarded the prestigious Buttle UK Quality Mark (now discontinued) in recognition of our commitment to young people in and leaving care. The charity only awarded the Quality Mark to colleges and universities who were committed to supporting young people who have been in care, to access further and higher education and successfully complete their studies and achieve their ambitions. 

The work we do for care leavers has also gone on to win the National Education Opportunities Network Access Initiative of the Year in 2015 and the Educate the North Access Award in 2016.

Are you a Care Leaver?

The level of support young people receive depends on their status as a Care Leaver. The following are the defined status that the University of Cumbria will support.

Eligible child - A child aged 16 and 17 who has been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and who is still looked after.

Relevant child - A child aged 16 and 17 who has been looked after for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and who has already left care. 

Former relevant child - A young person over 18 who was previously ‘eligible’ or ‘relevant’. Local authorities support this group at least until age 21 or until 25 if in education or training.

Qualifying child - Any young person under 21 (or 24 if in education or training) who ceases to be looked after or accommodated in a variety of other settings, or privately fostered, after the age of 16. This also includes young people who are under a special guardianship order. 

Remember in order for the University of Cumbria to know you are a care leaver you need to tick the box on your UCAS application to let us know that you have been in care.

We also request that you send us evidence that you have spent time in care. This can be an email or letter from:

This needs to be emailed to Outreach at 

The university may still support you if you do not fall into one of these categories. Please contact Outreach for more information.

What Support Can We Offer to Care Leavers?

The University of Cumbria will offer levels of support to all defined care leavers.

* To maximise your chances of being allocated a Cumbria Bursary, you should ensure that you apply for income assessed student finance through your funding body (e.g. Student Finance England). In your application, you must give consent to share your financial information with your Higher Education Institution.

Funded Transport for Applicant Visit Days and Interviews

As a care leaver, the University of Cumbria wants to support you to attend our Applicant Visit Days and also (if applicable) your interview with us.

We can reimburse your travel costs (and accommodation costs if you're travelling from further away) for yourself and one guest up to the value of £150. We'll need to see evidence of your Care Leaver status and receipts for travel/accommodation. If you've ticked the box on UCAS to say you're a Care Leaver, you'll receive an email from the university inviting you to claim your travel reimbursement. If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch with your dedicated contact - Outlook.

Student Finance and the Cumbria Bursary

Some students find that they would like some advice with the Student Finance application, particularly when it comes to proving independent status that can mean they receive more maintenance loan. If this would be helpful for you, you can contact our Money Advisors at, who will be happy to help you with any money related queries you have. You can also meet our money advisors at an Applicant Visit Day. 

Additional information for care leavers/independent students is available from Student Finance England and additional information on independent status can be found from Stand Alone.

Please also visit our own Fees and Finance page for information on scholarships and bursaries as well as useful information from our money advisers. Care leavers who declare their status may have increased priority in being allocated a Cumbria Bursary*. Additionally, as a care leaver, you will be offered a pre-entry finance meeting to discuss extra funds you may be eligible for, budgeting techniques and any other enquiries or questions you may have.

Health and Wellbeing

The university offers confidential support and advice in a number of ways:

Find out more

During induction week you will be introduced to staff from Student and Staff Services. They offer 24-hour access to online resources and a huge range of e-resources so that you can find support even when you're off-campus. Face-face support and workshops are also available.

Additional support services are provided for disabled students, which includes students with learning difficulties (such as dyslexia).

Schools, Colleges and Community Groups

We work with schools and colleges across Cumbria and Lancashire and are more than happy to come into schools or community groups to offer advice and guidance to young people currently in care, and care leavers thinking about entering HE.

We can also attend foster carer training to ensure that foster parents have the knowledge and resources to help foster children when they start to apply for HE places.

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