Clearing advice for care leavers

If you're a care leaver who has applied to university, Results Day presents a whole additional set of issues – aside from the usual stress over grades, of course.

Girl Results Day Clearing - Copy

Care leavers at university face a number of challenges, including securing funding and finding year-round accommodation. Thorough research is required to establish which universities will provide the necessary support, and if you don't get the required grades on Results Day, the task of finding a university through Clearing can seem daunting.

To help you succeed in Clearing, we got in touch with our friends at Become, the charity for children in care and young care leavers. Become runs Propel, a website dedicated to providing higher education guidance to young people with experience of care. With their help, we've come up with a few top tips for tackling Clearing as a care leaver.

Have a plan B

Your Pathway Plan should include a backup option. This is there just in case you don’t get the grades you were predicted and need to enter Clearing, or if you miss out on a place at university this time around.   

Understand how the Clearing process works

Even if you're confident that you've got the grades you need, there's no harm in being prepared just in case you need to use Clearing. Results Day will be a hectic and stressful time, so check out our guide to Clearing and other Clearing advice well in advance.

Make sure that your Personal Adviser and/or carer is on hand to support you on results day

Whether it's in person or by phone, the support of your Personal Adviser and/or carer is hugely important on Results Day. If you think you might not get the grades you were predicted, let them know beforehand so that they can be prepared to help you navigate the Clearing process.

Clearing vacancies can be taken up very quickly, so the value of having someone there to discuss your options and help you make decisions is not to be underestimated. Check that they understand the Clearing process too, as this makes it easier for them to support you!

When you call universities, tell them that you're a care leaver

Many universities offer assistance for care leavers, but they won't know to explain it to you if you don't ask. By telling the university that you're a care leaver, staff can talk to you about extra support that they offer. You may be put through to the person at the university who holds responsibility for supporting care-experienced students with things like accommodation or finances.

If you find a place through Clearing, your Pathway Plan will need to be reviewed

The change in circumstances may have a knock-on effect for where you live and the support you’ll receive. If you and your Personal Adviser discuss any arrangements, make sure these are written down in your Pathway Plan as soon as possible – don’t rely on a verbal agreement.

Choose the right course at the right university for you

It’s disappointing not to go to university when you were expecting to. However, if Clearing doesn't provide you with a course you want to do, at a university you want to attend, it may be better to hold off and take some time to think. If you start a course and then drop out, you will have to pay back any student loans (like your tuition fee loan and maintenance loan), and it’s possible you’d also have to pay back bursaries or grants that you have received too. 

Ask what continuing support you might be entitled to

If you’re close to or over 21, and you don’t find a course that’s suitable through Clearing, you should speak to your Personal Adviser. Ask whether you’ll be entitled to continuing support from your local authority if you’ll no longer be in education, or plan to take a gap year.

Find out more about Become and Propel

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For searchable information on the support available to care leavers at UK universities, check out Become’s Propel website. You’ll find advice on funding, a named staff member at each university or college who is responsible for working with and supporting care leavers, and inspirational stories from other care-experienced students.

For advice and information on rights and entitlements, and other issues related to being in or from care, contact Become’s Care Advice Line on 0800 023 2033 (Monday to Friday, 10:30 – 3pm) or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk.