Care leaver students

At Essex we are committed to supporting all our students who have the merit and potential to succeed throughout their university experience, regardless of background. If you have lived in care and you are looking to study at Essex, or you are already studying with us, there is support available for you.

As at other universities, Essex has a number of students who are care leavers and who enjoy successful educational experiences with us. We are aware that higher education can be daunting at first and this is why we want you to know exactly what support is available for you and how you can access this.

Definitions (based on Office for Students definitions)

  • Care leaver: A young person aged 16-25 years old who has been ‘looked after’ for at least 13 weeks by a local authority at some point since they were 14 years old,  and were in care on or after their sixteenth birthday.
  • Care experienced: A broad definition which encompasses all those who have spent time in care during childhood. Many will not be classed as care leavers because they left care (through, for example, adoption or returning to their family) before their sixteenth birthday."

Thinking about university?

Our Outreach Team offers a range of activities and events designed to highlight the benefits of higher education.

You may also find useful advice on the Propel website.

The Sussex Learning Network Uni Connect Programme, in collaboration with the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers, created a short film focusing on care-experienced students at university.

Applying for university

UCAS provides information and support to care leavers wishing to apply for university. The Rees Foundation Charity may be able to provide financial support, advice and guidance.

While you are at university

Your Student Services Hub offers advice and guidance on a range of issues, such as changing your course, financial matters, impartial money management and debt advice. You can request an appointment with a specialist adviser.

You can ask them about financial support available, such as:

The Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service is also here to provide ongoing emotional support to students studying at Essex. In addition, every student at Essex is allocated a personal tutor and has access to a peer mentor.

Please contact the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service if you would like a named specialist adviser who you can talk with about any concerns and support needs you have during your studies.


When applying for on-campus accommodation as a first year undergraduate student, you will have the opportunity to select either a 39 week or 50 weeks contract duration length.

If you are eligible, you can also apply to stay in on-campus accommodation for your returning years of study; where this is approved, you will not be required to vacate the accommodation for the two weeks bridging the academic years. However, it is likely you may be required to move to a new room.

The Application for Individual Needs Accommodation form for continuing students only is available from SWIS. Please email

Care leavers can get general support and advice from The National Network for the Education of Care Leavers.

Two woman talking at a helpdesk
Need help?

If you need any further help and advice, please contact or visit the Student Services Hub who will be happy to assist you.