Care experienced and estranged young people

The University of Manchester is committed to supporting young people who are care experienced or estranged to succeed in higher education.

For any young person who identifies as care experienced or estranged, we offer support to make the transition to university smooth and straightforward. We provide information, advice and guidance so young people are able to make informed decisions about their future. As well as providing help with applications, we can also aid young people to access support and resources both before they arrive at university and throughout their studies, including access to accommodation for a calendar year in our halls of residence.

When students tick the box on their UCAS application to indicate that they are care experienced, a member of the University’s Student Support team will contact them so students are able to access all of the support that they are entitled to as soon as possible. As this box is not currently available on the UCAS form we suggest that estranged students contact us directly using the contact details below. 

If you would like more information about how we can support care experienced or estranged students, please email or You can also find out more about the support available for students while studying.

Our commitment

The University has made a commitment to estranged students through our StandAlone pledge and we are currently working on our institutional commitment to the Care Leaver covenant.

Our programmes – for prospective students

The University's support includes working with young people in secondary schools to raise awareness of higher education and partnering with organisations such as local authorities to provide advice and guidance for young people who are care experienced.

The Greater Manchester Care Leaver Awards: Annually in October, to tie in with Care Leavers Week.

The annual Greater Manchester Care Leaver Awards provide an opportunity to recognise the achievements of care experienced young people from across the region. The event is organised by the universities and local authorities in Greater Manchester as part of the Greater Manchester Higher network, and aims to celebrate and reward the achievements and successes of care leavers.

Success4Life: Spring Term 

Success4Life is a programme, delivered in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University as part of Greater Manchester Higher, which brings looked-after children together to take part in numerous interactive sessions in a university environment.

The sessions provide learners with the opportunity to improve their confidence and communication skills while raising their awareness of higher education. University staff and student ambassadors work closely with young people to build a meaningful and supportive relationship. The sessions end with a graduation, where teachers, social workers and carers are invited to celebrate the learner’s journey and success on the programme.

Students who recently took part in Success4Life gave the following feedback:

  • “I think the project is very important for children in care because they help you to be more confident and I am much happier that I met other people in the same situation.”
  • “I would come again if I could, don’t be nervous; they treat you like a family.”
  • “It is very important for kids in care to learn what I have learnt: how to socialise, skills and what the university has to offer.”

Find out more about the Success4Life Project and the wider work we do with looked-after children.

Bespoke campus visits

We offer flexible and bespoke campus visits for care experienced or estranged young people  who express an interest in a particular degree course or career, with the aim of showing these individuals how university can be a part of their journey to realising an ambition.

Support workers who attended bespoke campus visits gave the following feedback:

  • “Thank you for the brilliant day. The girls absolutely loved it and it has definitely opened their eyes to what is possible. Everyone was so lovely to the girls and apparently they were talking about it non-stop when they got home. Your ambassadors are amazing.”
  • “It left her feeling enthused about university and was a very positive day, particularly because of the care leaver ambassadors who showed us around.”

For further information on bespoke visits please email:

Please note that currently we aren't able to offer face-to-face visits to campus but we're happy to discuss support we can offer virtually.

Our programmes – for current students

Student support

The University is committed to supporting care leavers and estranged students throughout their studies and offers tailored support to these students. This includes various financial packages such as The Manchester Bursary, The Undergraduate Access Scholarship and the Cost of Living Support Fund.

Students are also provided with a named Student Support team contact that can provide one-to-one advice and guidance on making the most of the opportunities available at the University. The Student Support team can:

  • help students navigate and access university support services such as the Counselling and Mental Health Service, School Support Office or Disability Advisory and Support Centre;
  • help students with accommodation, finances and settling into university life;
  • provide a listening ear and are available for meetings whenever students would like to speak to someone;
  • put students in touch with other care experienced or estranged students, if they would like;
  • keep students updated with news and opportunities.

For current students, the named contacts are Hannah Armstrong and Ailsa Skelly. Hannah and Ailsa can be emailed at

For pre-entry students, the named contact is Sophie Flieshman. Sophie can be emailed at

Student ambassadors

Care experienced and estranged students are offered paid work at the University as a Student Ambassador. It is a great opportunity for these individuals to have access to flexible, paid, part-time work, while also being able to meet other university students and prospective students. While this is a great opportunity to earn some money, it also helps students to develop skills such as communication, teamwork and social and cultural awareness.

Student ambassadors are also offered the chance to work on the projects that we run with looked-after young people. Ambassadors act as role models, particularly for young care experienced pupils, by talking about their experiences of education.

Current ambassadors have said the following:

  • “Being an ambassador has truly been fulfilling. I feel proud to represent care leavers at university and feel like I can make an impact on those who are under care and are looking to go to university.”
  • “I have enjoyed working at the events this past year as I feel that my participation and help can make such a difference, even in the slightest way, to someone who is visiting, whether they are young people in care, care workers or any persons dealing with people in care.”


Care experienced and estranged students also have a named contact within the Careers Service, Victoria Geary ( Victoria helps students to explore work experience opportunities and is also on hand to discuss careers, job applications, CVs and anything else relating to their future.

Our programmes – for key influencers

The University also delivers events that target adults who influence the lives of young people in or leaving care, to increase their knowledge and understanding of university.

Supporting the Supporters

Supporting the Supporters is a free, virtual event for the key influencers in the lives of learners from a care experienced background. This includes foster parents, social workers and designated teachers who are invited to hear from our care leaver student ambassadors and are provided with updates about the support offered by universities for care leavers, and information on university applications and student finance.

The event is delivered as part of our Uni Connect partnership with Greater Manchester Higher and we aim to make the event practical, accessible and informative with a choice of different workshops for delegates to attend.

A care leaver advisor stated:

  • “We all know that care experienced young people are under-represented when it comes to getting a place at university, and the ‘Supporting the Supporters’ conference was a great opportunity to hear how this issue is being addressed in Greater Manchester.”

Further information can be found about this event on the GMHigher webpages.

National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL)

The University of Manchester is a proud member of NNECL and was recognised with the NNECL Quality Mark in July 2021 for our work to include and support the success of care experienced students.

National Network for the Education of Care Leavers quality mark logo

The Quality Mark demonstrates that we're working towards a national set of standards to support applications from care experienced young people and help them throughout their student journey, and beyond.

It not only recognises our existing work, but acts a visible reminder that universities are inclusive places of learning, personal development and success. 

The NNECL website provides a list of activities run by universities across England for care leavers that can be searched by region, age group or institution. To see what events your looked-after children and care leavers can get involved with, visit the NNECL website.

The Who Cares? Trust

The Who Cares? Trust has put together Propel, a website that brings together information from UK universities and provides general information on higher education, as well as information about what each university provides to care leavers.