Support for care experienced and estranged students

At Sheffield, you’ll find all the support you need to fulfil your ambitions. Discover how we can help you on your journey to the University of Sheffield, throughout your studies and beyond.

Students on campus outside the Students' Union.

What do we mean by care experienced and estranged students?

Care experienced students

Someone who is care experienced will have lived in public care or as a looked-after child at any stage of their life up to the age of 18. Including if you:

  • Are recognised by your Local Authority as a 'care leaver' or were in the past
  • Were adopted from care or left care with a Special Guardianship Order before the age of 18
  • Lived with foster carers or in a residential children's home
  • Have been looked after under a supervision order; or
  • Have lived with friends or relatives in formal kinship care under a Local Authority but are not currently recognised by you Local Authority as a care leaver in receipt of statutory support

This doesn't cover time spent in boarding schools, working in care or healthcare settings, or if you're a carer yourself. 

Estranged students 

Estranged students have no relationship with, or support from, parents or carers. we'll consider you an estranged student if:

  • You haven't communicated with your parents for 12 months before your degree course is due to start and the situation is irreconcilable; or 
  • Both your biological parents are deceased; or
  • Your parents can't be traced or it isn't practicable or safe for you to make contact with them 

Are you a student with caring responsibilities? Explore the support and guidance we provide for carers.

Our commitment to you

We're committed to ensuring that you get the support you need at each stage of your journey.  Our team of experts are able to understand the often complex requirements that you may have if you’re care experienced or have become estranged from your family.

  • We're a signatory to the Care Leaver Covenant.
  • We've been recognised for our support for estranged students by the national charity Stand Alone. We provide help in four key areas where estranged students feel the lack of family support the most: access and transition, finance, accommodation, and mental health and wellbeing.

What our students say

Hear from current students about their time as a student at Sheffield and the support they received.

You know what, the first day when I moved in the memories are so vivid was a nice afternoon...if felt like a new chapter, I can't describe it.


Support for estranged students
“I knew that Sheffield had really good financial support. I knew that there was a bursary you could receive."
Support for care leavers
Samraj shares his experiences as a care leaver, sudying at the University of Sheffield and working with the outreach team

Support before you apply

How we'll support you

Whether you're just starting to think about your future or you're looking for more information about support at university, we're here for you.

If you're care experienced or estranged from your family, we can help you research your options and work through the UCAS application process. Everything we do is supported by our student ambassadors - current students who are care experienced or are estranged from their families.

Visiting Sheffield

Visiting campus is a great opportunity to speak to us about applying to University. We can arrange to meet you at one of our undergraduate open days or if you'd like to visit on a different day, one of our student ambassadors, who may have similar circumstances, can take you on a tour of campus. 

You don't have to do this alone. You're welcome to bring a supporter - whether it be a friend, guardian or social worker. We even have an Access+ Travel Bursary that may help towards your travel costs. 

Student ambassador talking to two guests on campus at a University event.

There's a lot of people who are from different backgrounds ... everyone just kind of gets along and accepts you for who you are.


Making your application

If you're care experienced or are estranged from your family, you may be eligible for a contextual offer equivalent to one grade below the standard A Level entry requirements for your course, as part of Access+.

Simply tell us your circumstances using our Access+ eligibility declaration. We'd also encourage you to complete our Disrupted Studies Application form, to help us put your application into context.

Financial help

As an estranged student or care leaver, you may be eligible for a university bursary. This bursary is automatically awarded each year of study.

Unlike a loan, you don't have to pay it back.

You could get up to:

  • £10,000 for full-time students
  • £5,000 for part-time students

University bursary for care leavers

University bursary for estranged students


As well as receiving a bursary, you can apply for a range of scholarships, including: 


We guarantee that care experienced and estranged students living in University accommodation can stay on campus for the full year and that you'll live with the majority of new students. Our award-winning student residential support service, Residence Life will provide a busy calendar of social events and Residence Life mentors are always on hand to offer advice and support.

You'll be asked for a deposit when confirming your booking. If you're experiencing any financial challenges, please contact the Student Fees and Funding team who can explore your options with you

You can stay in University accommodation throughout your studies and as a returning student you'll have the chance to choose your room early before most bookings open.

Accommodation guarantor scheme

If you’re a care leaver or have become estranged from your family and do not have anyone to act as a guarantor, you might be eligible for our accommodation guarantor scheme. The guarantee could help cover your rent if you fall into financial difficulty and cannot pay.

This year we're inviting all care experienced and estranged students to a shopping and social trip at IKEA, to pick up any last minute bits for your room.

Travel and shopping costs will be covered by the University. If you can't make it, we'll send you an IKEA voucher.

Three students hanging out in an accommodation bedroom

Arrival and welcome

After accepting your place we’ll get in touch about joining the University and make sure you're aware of all the support you can access.

  • You'll have a designated contact in our Student Experience, Diversity and Inclusion team who you can talk to about any concerns you have before you arrive.
  • A student mentor could support you when you arrive on campus. This will be a second or third year student who will show you round your department and the University, offering one-to-one, confidential advice and support. You'll usually be matched with a mentor from your department and, if possible, the same course.
  • You'll have the chance to take part in Orientation Week. It's a great opportunity to make friends and learn more about the city and campus. You’ll be able to attend virtual talks and take part in social activities with staff and student ambassadors.
  • You’ll be invited to our care experienced and estranged student socials throughout the year, where you will have the chance to meet other students - not just first years! 
  • You'll also be invited to drop-ins in October (which run throughout the year) to meet our support team and grab a free coffee.

Your wellbeing

A support network

Your designated contact in the Student Experience, Diversity and Inclusion team will keep in touch and help with any issues you have. Wellbeing advisors in your faculty and a contact in your department will also be on hand to provide support.

Your mental wellbeing is really important to us. Our Student Access Mental Health Support service will help you explore the broad range of psychological support available to you.

Academic support

You can get a support plan to help you access additional academic help and identify any other challenges that you may need support with. All our students are allocated a personal tutor and departments have support staff to help with any issues you might have.

Careers and next steps

Our Careers Service is available to help you throughout your studies and for as long as you need us after graduation. Whatever your starting point, and whatever support you need, the Careers Service can help you reach your full potential. You may also be eligible for dedicated additional support through Equal Opportunities in Careers.

Contact us

If you have any questions about applying or visiting us, get in touch. You can find out about anything from arranging priority consideration for your university accommodation, to concerns about studies and student life.

If you have any queries about funding, get in touch with our finance team.

Do you support a young person in care? 

If you support a young person in care in Year 7 to Year 10, please contact that Higher Education Progression Partnership (Hepp), which works across the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority to encourage more young people to consider higher education opportunities by providing targeted activities in children in care. 

Four students laughing while sat at a bench, outside the Students' Union

International Merit Scholarships

We offer a generous package of financial support for international students including 75 undergraduate scholarships worth £10,000 towards the annual tuition fee and 125 postgraduate taught scholarships worth £5,000 towards the tuition fee. Applications are now open for existing offer holders.