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Support for care leavers and care experienced students

Counselling appointment for young asian woman student in counsellor College office. Horizontal indoors waist up shot with copy space.

We offer a variety of support to care experienced students. We are committed to helping more care experienced people and care leavers go to university.

To demonstrate our commitment we are a member of the Care Leavers Activities and Student Support (CLASS) Cymru and the National Network of the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) networks. This network shares best practice, resources and training to improve the student experience for care experienced and care leavers in Wales.

Is this support for you

We define a care experienced student as someone who has spent time living with foster carers under local authority care, in residential care (e.g. a children’s home), looked after at home under a supervision order, or in kinship care with relatives or friends, either officially (e.g. a special guardianship order) or informally without local authority support.

The term 'care leaver' means that you are care experienced and that you will have been in the care of your local authority for at least 13 weeks at any time since the age of 14 (the 13 weeks does not need to have been all one go). This care will have finished on, or after, your 16th birthday.

Applying for a course

When you book to attend an Open Day, you will have the opportunity to disclose that you are Care Experienced. If you do this, you will be invited to meet our dedicated contact and widening participation team who can answer any questions you have about support here.

When you apply to university through UCAS you will have an opportunity to disclose you are Care Experienced. We would encourage you to tick yes for this question so we can contact you as early as possible about the support available to you.

We have implemented a contextual admissions model to better inform Admissions Tutors’ understanding of applicants’ social backgrounds, allowing Admissions Tutors to assess applicants’ potential to succeed with us in the context of barriers they may have encountered. Applicants who have spent time in care and indicated this on their UCAS form (using the specified question) will be eligible for additional consideration. This could include a guaranteed offer, guaranteed interview, an offer at a lower level or additional consideration in the summer exam results period.

If you are not yet ready for a degree the Continuing Professional Education Department team offers a wide range of part-time courses, at levels and times to suit you. Many of these courses have no entry requirements - all you need is an interest in the subject and a willingness to explore it in the company of others. The pathways programme is an alternative to A-level and access qualifications as it is taught and assessed in similar ways to first year undergraduate courses.

Contact or call 02920 870000 to find out more.


For information on our Care Leavers Bursary please see our dedicated Care Leaver Bursary page.

Transitions support

It is important to us that your transition to university is made easier by you being able to have information and guidance in regards to any questions you have before you start and after.

Our Outreach Team offer information, advice and guidance to help you prepare for university. Explore their get involved pages to see what projects you can get involved with.

If you have ticked the box at UCAS our dedicated contact Lena Smith will be in touch to answer any questions you may have before starting the course and can signpost you to services at the university you may need.

Support while you are studying

We aim to foster an excellent and supportive student experience. This includes to nurture and encourage confident and successful futures for all. We offer dedicated support on top of general student life support on offer to all students.

Lena Smith is the dedicated contact for care experienced students at Cardiff University and offers the following support throughout your studies:

  • support with applying for student funding and alternative grants and bursaries
  • support with academic-related issues, including liaising with your academic department and making students aware of how to apply for extenuating circumstances if needed
  • assist with any housing issues
  • sign posting towards other University services such as Student Disability Service, Counselling and Wellbeing or academic study skills
  • hosting events and activities and being their to talk to if needed
  • accommodation is available in Halls over the summer so you do not have to worry about signing up to another contract if in between contracts. When you move into private accommodation in your second year the University can also act as a guarantor if you need us to
  • dedicated career and employability support is available to care experienced students through our Career Confident scheme.

To ensure you have the best experience at graduation we offer a package for Care Experienced students who have received support from us. Our current package includes covering the cost of the graduation gown hire.

We support our graduates who have disclosed with the Ask Jan Membership to ensure they have access to wellbeing support for one year after graduation.

After graduation you can apply for campus halls for the summer until the 1st September to ensure you have enough time to plan your next steps.

Our Student Futures Team can provide support up to 3 years after graduation supporting your next steps after university.

A relationship with Cardiff University is for life and you can stay connected with the university and be part of our global community of Alumni.

Get in touch

Lena Smith