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Care Leavers: What support we offer, University Centre Leeds

The local authority’s responsibility to care leavers extends until they reach the age of 21 (or 24 where the Local Authority is involved in supporting them in Higher Education or training). Care leavers may be able to access support, set out in a Pathway Plan.

At University Centre Leeds (part of Leeds City College / Luminate Education Group) we are proud of our supportive environment, ensuring everyone receives personalised support and is provided the opportunity to reach their full potential. We are committed to supporting students who are care experienced, leaving care or are estranged from their families; studying without the support of a family network. Work considers any starting point on the journey, engaging those currently in education and those looking to return to education having had a break from formal education.

Below are some examples of the work we do but we are not limited to this and are happy to discuss further support needs on an individual basis. Support can be offered either face-to-face (depending on government COVID guidelines at the time), by phone, or remotely via a preferred platform. If you would like to discuss any support needs or activities further, please contact


Outreach and transition:

To help care leavers and estranged students make informed decisions about their future, higher education and degree choices, and their higher education application, we offer:

  • Personalised 1-2-1 progression and transition support:
    • focussing on providing information and guidance;
    • developing confidence, resilience, identity, and cultural/social capital; managing expectations and myth busting;
    • generating a sense of belonging; and, supporting a step-by-step journey (through decision making, applications, sourcing financial and wellbeing support, enrolment, and studying);
  • Personalised tours;
  • Foster Family / Care Experienced Taster Days;
  • Information sessions for carers and personal advisors;
  • Raising attainment and aspirations activities;
  • 1-to-1 Application support;
  • Contextual admissions and support for those with non-typical entry qualifications;
  • For those enrolling with us, students will access individualised support from the HE Progression and Wellbeing Officer;
  • Collaborative partnerships with education providers across West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire, to support progression to colleges and universities other than ourselves.



To help support new students who are care experienced, leaving care or estranged from their families to start full time higher education at University Centre Leeds we offer the following financial support:

  • Support in completing the Student Finance England application for tuition fee and maintenance loans;
  • Bursary (up to £1000 awarded by University Centre Leeds);
  • Supporting any costs of interview travel and/or on-course materials (where applicable – up to 50% of costs);
  • Supporting the cost of graduation gown hire and photographs (up to 50% of costs);
  • University Centre Leeds can act as a guarantor for your student accommodation agreements;
  • Support to access financial support available from the Local Authority, including:
    • Care Leavers Higher Education Bursary (government grant);
    • Leeds Care Leaver Higher Education Bursary (Care Leavers Service Maintenance Allowance);
    • Leeds Maintenance and Accommodation Grants.



Our WP and Outreach Team, and the HE Progression and Wellbeing Officer, will support care leavers and estranged students in finding appropriate student accommodation and we have developed links with a number of local student accommodation providers who will be flexible about the need for a guarantor.

University Centre Leeds can act as a guarantor for your student accommodation agreements.


Mental health and wellbeing:

We will provide estranged students:

  • Designated support from the HE Counselling and Mental Health Officer and/or student Counsellor;
  • Nominated support from the WP and Outreach Team, and HE Progression and Wellbeing Officer, from initial enquiry through to graduation and graduate employment;
  • Named contact from within the Safeguarding Team;
  • Buddying and/or mentoring schemes.


Further information about support for care leavers can be found on our website at –


Upcoming Events:

We truly believe that the 1-to-1 support we can offer to individual care leavers and carers is hugely impactful and beneficial, recognising individual difference and varying needs.

We do also have a series of open invite events and anyone is welcome to register. These include, for example, information workshops for carers, careers advisor information events, and care leaver information sessions.

Please see also website for updates on taster workshops, information sessions and open events.

For any further information, or if you have any enquiries, please do not hesitate to contact:


Jo Tyssen

Head of WP, Outreach and Projects, University Centre Leeds

Email:             Tel:07785556126


Jo Tyssen

Jo is the Head of WP, Outreach and Projects at University Centre Leeds and has 15 years’ experience within the HE sector. Her role involves developing and leading projects and activities that support people in their educational journey and their progression to higher education. Jo recognises individual differences and understands the importance of supporting care leavers on an individual basis. Jo is the main contact for care experienced young people and care leavers who are thinking about their next steps and possibly studying a degree.

Jo is also the contact for carers and support workers or personal advisors who are supporting care experienced young people. Jo and her team offer a wide range of support based on individual needs and she can be contacted at

Laura is the HE Progression and Wellbeing Officer at University Centre Leeds, and supports applicants and students at University Centre Leeds, in their progression. Laura is the care leaver contact for students on University Centre Leeds degrees and supports students in developing and maintaining positive health and wellbeing throughout their studies. This includes helping care leavers source accommodation and financial support, as well as careers and progression advice.

Laura offers a wide range of support to care leavers, details of which can be found at


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