Support and guidance for care leavers

Students who have been in care are among the most under-represented groups in higher education.

At the University of Sheffield, we're committed to helping applicants from care backgrounds to research their higher education options and navigate the UCAS application process.

We have a team of experts to provide help and support at every step of the journey. Those that choose to apply to the University of Sheffield and declare their circumstances in their UCAS application, or via our Access+ eligibility declaration, will receive additional consideration throughout the admissions process. If you're eligible for our Access+ scheme you may also be eligible for an alternative offer equivalent to one grade below the standard A Level requirements for your course.

Access Sheffield

Pre-application: Information and guidance

Whether you're just starting to think about higher education or seeking more information about specific courses, we're here to help. Our Outreach team run a series of events throughout the year for those from a care background aged 14+, including a two-day Summer School.

For those aged 16+, we can help you plan a visit to one of our undergraduate open days, or put you in touch with an expert in our Admissions Service who will give you the advice and guidance you need to make an informed choice.

If you're intending to visit Sheffield for an open day, we also offer a travel bursary which can help refund some of your costs:

Access Travel Bursary

For more information about our pre-application support, please contact our dedicated looked-after children and care leaver contact, Sarah Adams:
0114 222 3621

Making your UCAS application

Our Applying Essentials guidance describes the process of applying to study with us:

Applying Essentials

We strongly encourage you to declare that you're a care leaver in your UCAS application, and to complete our Access+ eligibility declaration:

UCAS advice for care leavers

Access+ eligibility declaration

This means that our academic selectors will be aware of your circumstances, and will give your application additional consideration when we receive it, and when exam results are released. Depending on the qualifications you're taking, we may also be able to make you an alternative offer of one A Level grade below the standard entry requirements for your course, or the equivalent if you're taking other qualifications.

If you're concerned that you may not meet our standard or alternative course entry requirements due to issues of a social, personal or domestic nature, which could include your care experience and related circumstances, we would also encourage you to provide more information via our Disrupted Studies scheme. This will help us to put your application into context and will further support our decision-making.

Disrupted Studies

For support with your UCAS application, Access+ eligibility declaration and/or Disrupted Studies notification, please contact Heather Macleod Jones, our Admissions Officer with responsibility for Access:
0114 222 1410

Financial support

Care leavers who attend the University are entitled to a comprehensive financial support package, including a non-repayable care leavers bursary. This money is yours to keep, you don't have to repay it and it won't affect your student finance.

University bursary for care leavers

We also have accommodation scholarships available for care leavers. There are two different scholarships available and, if you're eligible, we encourage you to apply for both:

Accommodation scholarships for care leavers

If you have any questions, an expert from our Financial Support Team would be happy to give you the advice you need:

Transitional support

The University's Central Welfare and Guidance Team offer dedicated transition support to care leavers. You can talk to them about anything from arranging priority consideration for your University accommodation application to any concerns you have about your studies and life at the University. This support will be available to you throughout your time with us.
0114 222 1378

The team can also put you in touch with one of our current students from a similar background so you can talk more informally about making the transition to being a University of Sheffield student.

Our support for students from a care background


  • Care Leaver: A person aged 25 or under, who has been looked after by a local authority for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, and who was looked after by the local authority at school-leaving age or after that date.

  • Background in care: A person who has been in the care of a local authority for at least 13 weeks, whether away from home or in the home.

  • Looked after and/or In the care of a Local Authority: Includes in foster care, in local authority accommodation, at home under a care order or under kinship care.