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Care Leavers and Estranged Students

The decision to attend university is a big one for anyone – more so if you don’t have family support. If you’re in or leaving care, our dedicated team will help you decide whether higher education – and the University of Central Lancashire – is right for you and your future.

We offer a range of support and services to help all students, especially if you are from care or estranged from your parents. We understand that at different stages of your university life you may need different types of support and advice depending on your own individual needs.

Students in our one-stop Student Information Centre
Students in our one-stop Student Information Centre

What are estranged students?

Estranged students are young people studying without the support and approval of a family network. Individuals in this position often have no contact at all with their family. Whatever their background, it is undoubted these students are some of the most vulnerable young people in our university communities.

We’re on your side before, during and after your studies

Our Access and Widening Participation team will come out to meet you or you can join us on campus in Preston. We’ll introduce you to higher education, explore ways to finance your studies, explain how to: apply to university, write a Personal Statement and prepare for university interviews, and discuss the dedicated support available to Care Leavers.

Our Careers team will help you come up with an action plan for the future – what courses are available to you, and what they could lead to?

You can also get a flavour of student life before you start, join us for:

  • Workshops, either on campus or within a vocational setting
  • On-campus taster days
  • Summer schools and residential activity

If you’re struggling to find the money to join us at these events, we can help. In addition to this, £1,000 annual bursaries are available. As long as you meet the criteria, you can apply for a £1,000 Care Leavers and Estranged Student Bursary to help get you started.

Year-round Halls accommodation is available. Once our Student Accommodation Service knows you’re leaving care they’ll explain your options and payment plans. Contracts are normally for 42 weeks, including the Christmas and Easter breaks, but if you need accommodation for the whole year including the summer, this can be arranged.

Our Careers Advisers have received specialist training to ensure they support our students according to their specific needs or circumstances. They can help you to explore your future options, whether that’s further study, a graduate level job, an internship, skills-development or even travelling. Look out for our specialist careers support sessions advertised throughout the year.

We will support you on everything from study and health problems to personal issues and disabilities, during your time with us and once you graduate.

Lee Mac

Former SU president Lee Mac tells his story

Our former SU president Lee, left his foster home at 16, which led to him living in social housing, bedsits and local college accommodation.

“There was no support in place, no help to get education, support myself financially, or live day to day. There were times when I rifled through bins. I came to UCLan with 11p in my pocket but they supported me in different aspects of finance and settling in. They also showed me routes that I could take to help myself, such as the bursary funds. Without the support, I probably wouldn’t have stayed at University. Currently, the university and SU are working to make life better for Care Leavers in education. We are offering bursaries to Care Leavers and an inclusive support package helping students before they arrive, and once they are with us, allowing them to get involved with university life.

My advice for any Care Leaver would be to get involved with university and not to be afraid to ask for help – it makes you the person you want to be!”

Let’s get started

There’s a whole team of people waiting to help you start the next chapter of your life – here are some useful contacts to help get the ball rolling.

Dedicated Care Leaver Advisor

Talk to our dedicated Care Leaver Advisor Hannah Small, she’ll be happy to arrange a one-to-one appointment to talk through the support we offer Care Leavers.

Telephone: +44 (0)1772 893020 or


Confidential Admissions Advisor

Speak to one of our Admissions Officers, in confidence. They will give you more information if you need financial help to attend one of our taster sessions.

Phone: +44 (0)1772 892444 or


You don't need to be a care leaver

All our students – especially those estranged from their family or who have been living in a Foyer – can apply for support.


Stand Alone Pledge

We have taken the Stand Alone pledge, to show that we are committed to improving support for estranged students in four key areas, and are 100% behind the student journey, from entry to graduation.

The Stand Alone Pledge aims to change outcomes for estranged students, facilitating the development of better services to support them with their unique struggles.

Find out more