Care leavers

The University of St Andrews can offer additional support to care leavers, both during the application process and once you have started at St Andrews. This can include financial support and guidance, help finding 365-day a year accommodation and a dedicated care leaver support coordinator.

What is a care leaver?

There are many definitions of care leaver and sometimes can be difficult to know exactly if it applies to you. We take the view that you could be considered a care leaver if you spent time in care as a child (under the age of 18), and:

  • the care was approved by the state through a court order, or it was undertaken on a voluntary basis, or;
  • the care was in foster care, or residential care (mainly children’s homes) or other arrangements made by the state through court order, or;
  • the care was provided directly by the state (mainly through local authority social services departments) or by the voluntary or private sector (e.g. Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society and many others)

Accommodation support

The University of St Andrews is aware that finding somewhere to live whilst studying in Higher Education is particularly important if you are a young person leaving care. In response to this, the University endeavours to support care leavers in securing 365 day a year accommodation for the duration of their studies. The care leaver support coordinator is also available to help you with accommodation that you may require outside of the University term time.

As with all students, it is important that you apply for University accommodation within the stated deadline. Please ensure you read the application process guidelines before applying for accommodation; the care leaver support coordinator can assist you in this process.

For more information on the accommodation offered by the University of St Andrews take a look at the Accommodation website.

Remember - your local authority may be able to help you meet some or all of your accommodation costs while you are in full time education. Scottish students can find more information on the responsibilities of your local authority when you leave care in the Scottish Parliament’s guidelines on Supporting Young People Leaving Care in Scotland (2004).

Financial assistance

The University of St Andrews has a range of financial aid for undergraduates. Students who join the University after leaving care, you can apply for a bursary where the circumstances surrounding your circumstances will be taken into account in the selection process. There are also a number of other types of financial support, including the University's Discretionary Fund, which can be accessed at any point within your studies here. You can find out more about scholarships, bursaries and financial aid in the Fees and funding section.

Your local education authority (in England) or the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS, in Scotland) will usually pay any undergraduate tuition fees for eligible students. If you are a UK resident, you will also be likely to be eligible for a repayable student loan. To find out more information on tuition fees and student loans see the SAAS website or the website.

You should also remember that if you have been looked after by your local authority, it may have a policy detailing how they will help you financially towards the cost of your studies, including books, accommodation etc. Speak to your keyworker, social worker or aftercare team about what support your local authority could provide you. If you have any further questions or would like some help contacting your local authority then get in touch with the care leaver support coordinator.

Scottish students can find more information on the responsibilities of your local authority when you leave care in the Scottish Parliament’s guidelines on Supporting Young People Leaving Care in Scotland (2004).

Care leaver support coordinator

All students considering applying to university require a great deal of information to make the best decisions for their future. Students who have had experience of being in care or are leaving care may need additional information during the application process. The University of St Andrews has a named care leaver support coordinator, Mike Johnson, who acts as a point of initial contact for care leavers who are thinking of applying to the University. Mike also offers on-going support and impartial guidance as required.

If you have any questions about applying to the University of St Andrews or are currently studying at the University and would like more details about the support that the University offers, please contact:

Mike Johnson‌
Director of Access and Scottish/EU Admissions

Phone: 01334 46 2346


The University of St Andrews is committed to increasing the numbers of care leavers going to university. If you meet the definition of a care leaver as outlined above and you are applying to the University through UCAS, and you please make sure you tick the box which asks if you have been in care. This enables the care leaver support coordinator to contact you with more information about the support we can offer.

When making offers to students who are care leavers, the Admissions team will look at each application on an individual basis. Admissions officers will also take into account any mitigating circumstances affecting students who have been in care, as per the contextual admissions policy.