According to the latest data from Student Finance England, the University enrolled the second highest number of new Care Leavers students in September 2020.
This week is National Care Leaver Week and Jayme Stevens, Interim Head of School and College Engagement (SCE) and one the University’s designated members of staff for Care Leavers, reflects on the progress the University has made and the work still to do in welcoming and supporting students from a care background.
Jayme said: “We are proud of the growing number of Care Leaver students at the University and delighted that the latest figures from Student Finance England show Canterbury Christ Church University as second highest in the country for new Care Leaver entrants in September 2020.
“There is a growing focus across the University on supporting Care Leaver students and the wider care experienced community that is reflected in the targets within our Access and Participation Plan and our Care Leaver Covenant. We now invite staff applicants to declare whether they have experienced care to make it easier to grow our care experienced staff community and have, in partnership with the Students’ Union, developed a Care Leaver network for students to highlight the support and opportunities available. However, we know from our care experienced students that as an institution we need to increase awareness of difficulties that they are faced with whilst being conscious of not making assumptions about students who have spent time in a care setting.”
The SCE team asked a care experienced ambassador and social work student for her perspective on the Care Leaver experience and what she would like to see from the University regarding attitudes toward care experienced students. She said: “I would be very mindful of wording and assumptions being made – it’s important to not make assumptions about people. I don’t think most people realise what it’s like to not have family or parents to help you at university, both financially and academically. I had to do it all by myself. Thankfully, the Student Wellbeing team are fantastic – they seem genuinely caring and compassionate.”
Jayme continued: “What has become clear over the years is that some issues perceived by one student to be a minor setback such as delays in receipt of funding may be a university-ending situation to a Care Leaver who is far less likely to have access to familial support.
"It is important that the staff and students at Canterbury Christ Church University recognise these barriers into higher education and continue to sensitively support those that have encountered difficulties in their transition into student life.”
Information about the additional support available for Care Leaver students at the University is available here.