02 December 2021

The University of East London (UEL), in partnership with The CareTech Foundation, have officially launched the CareTech Foundation Care Leavers Bursary Grant, the first of its kind to provide both financial support and work experience opportunities to care leavers entering university.

At the launch event, held at UEL's Docklands Campus, five UEL students with care backgrounds were awarded the first round of grants. CareTech Foundation’s Manager Tariq Raja, emceed the event. Professor Amanda Broderick, Vice-Chancellor and President of UEL, and CareTech plc Executive Chairman, Farouq Sheikh OBE, delivered speeches.

Katarina Blanco, Student Money and Rights Team (SMART) Advisor at UEL, shared a testimony from  one UEL student and grant recipient.

Quoting the student, she said, "Being a care leaver in higher education does have its struggles, however the staff at the SMART team and UEL have really supported me. From advice to bursaries, everything has been covered.

"Bursaries such as this [CareTech Foundation's] have given me the financial freedom to be able to travel back and forth outside of London to campus, get the latest technology and buy my own copies of books for my courses. This is something I wouldn’t have been able to do alone."

The grant will offer a bursary of £1,000 a year to a student studying a health or social care course at university. It will offer support to up to five young people at any one university per year, but these will be multi-year commitments through the student’s university careers.

Any young people with a disability will receive an additional £250 per year and on graduation, a further award of £250 will be made to celebrate the success of their commitment.

Professor Broderick said: "We want to, and do, see our students thrive – both professionally and personally. For us, it is about developing skills for life, for work and for impact, underpinned by the resilience and strength.

"But it starts, for many, with money. Removing some of the financial burden and providing added support will give care leavers peace of mind and help them thrive at university and beyond. This is why we are delighted to help launch the new CareTech Foundation scholarship, which will provide a bursary to five care leaver students, making their student journey a little easier."

Between 6-12 per cent of care leavers go into higher education compared to 42 per cent of their non-care-experienced peers.

Jonathan Freeman MBE, CEO of the CareTech Foundation, said: "Care sector organisations offering this kind of support is something sorely lacking. We are working to change that with this grant and we hope other care and educational leaders will adopt this model in the future.

"It is crucial that we address this disparity and ensure that support for young people in care extends beyond care.

"By providing financial support and work experience, we can ensure university is not about graduating with a degree, but also frontline work experience to boost confidence and provide a platform of opportunity so that these young people can become sector leaders and represent their individual and collective experiences in a way that makes all of us proud."

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