Vital Support for Care-Experienced Students

Vital Support for Care-Experienced Students
2021-10-14

The deadline for applications to this year's Development Trust Student Fund is fast-approaching. Find out more or apply for funding here before 5pm on October 22nd. Your project, aimed at enhancing the student experience over the coming year, could be eligible for up to £5,000 of funding.

Below we find out how the Student Fund is helping to improve services for care-experienced students.

The Development Trust Student Fund has, for many years, been able to help provide vital support services for students with complex needs thanks to the support of our world-wide community of alumni donors. In recent years, contact with care-experienced students (fostered, adopted, residential, kinships etc) and work with student recruitment colleagues had indicated that there was a need to better understand the particular issues faced by care-experienced students.

“Studies have found that only 16% of care-experienced pupils achieve Highers at school and only 6% go on to University. The reasons for their being in care, frequent moves and disruption to their education and friendships means that many suffer from poor mental health, financial hardship and have poor employment outcomes. With the support of the Development Trust Student Fund, the University’s Careers and Employability Service undertook research into the needs of such students via a University-wide survey which generated responses from approximately one third of all care-experienced students (60+).

“The results of the extensive survey, in conjunction with horizon scanning to identify good practice in other universities and potential external collaborators, has been compiled into a 9,000-word report. The report will be used going forward to identify key improvements which the Careers and Employability Service and the University as a whole can make to provision for care-experienced students under the obligations we have in our role of corporate parent. It is hoped that this research and future plans will have a significant positive impact on the experience of care-experienced students going forward.

“The project report is being discussed internally by the Careers and Employability Service to identify how to go forward with the key recommendations outlined in the report. It is also being discussed with the Vulnerable Persons sub-group to consider wider University responses to the findings. We are hopeful that this will result in specific initiatives to improve the experience of care-experienced students in the current academic year and in the future.

“This project would have been impossible without the financial support provided by the Development Trust. The support made possible the recruitment of a student intern, Mr Lucas Jackson, who undertook the research on behalf of the Careers and Employability Service. The research was extensive and required not only research via a student survey but considerable contact with external agencies and colleagues and organisations across the UK to identify good practice. Lucas brought great insight to the role having been care-experienced himself and produced a report which will be of enormous use to the Service and the University going forward.

“As a University department, we are incredibly grateful to the donors who supplied the funding to enable us to research the needs of care-experienced students. In response to initial research the entire Careers and Employability team undertook training with the Open University to better understand the needs of care-experienced students. We are now in a much better position to understand the issues and take steps to improve the student experience for care-experienced students as a result of the research. Thank you so much for helping to fund our intern for this very important piece of work.”

Janice Montgomery, Senior Careers Adviser

Published by The Development Trust, University of Aberdeen

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