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Are you a care leaver, applying to university? It may seem like a big step, that’s why we’re here to support you. 

A care leaver is someone aged under 25 who has spent time in care (i.e. with foster parents or in a children's home) who continues to receive support from their Local Authority. A care leaver would have spent at least 3 months in care including at the time of their 16th birthday, and will have Qualifying Child or Former Relevant Child status.

At Brunel, we welcome care leavers from all over the UK and we currently have over 100 undergraduate care leavers studying with us. We have a dedicated officer, Karen Western who is here to offer you information and guidance. There’s so much help and support available and you can contact us prior to starting university as we’re always happy to answer your questions. There are programmes and events to support care leavers, often in partnership with other universities. Why not come and visit us? We can even arrange an ambassador who is also a care leaver to show you around.

If you are not a Care Leaver but have experience of being in care, please get in touch to discuss support options available to you. Alternatively, if you have any questions about the application process, please get in touch with Karen Western or

Considering applying to uni?

There’s a wealth of subjects available at Brunel for you to choose from. Our course finder may help you to decide what is best for you. If you don’t quite make the grades to go straight onto one of our degree courses, don’t worry. We offer a range of foundation courses with flexible start dates through our Brunel Pathway College. These can offer access to many of our degree courses.

We can also arrange for you to meet up with a student ambassador, who is also a care leaver, to shadow them. They will chat to you about your course and answer any questions you may have.

Supporting you during the application process

Applying for one of our degrees is the same for all students, regardless of your circumstances. However, we understand that, as a care leaver, you may find the application process a little more complicated. There’s some helpful support and guidance for you here.

At Brunel, we have a dedicated widening access team to help take the stress out of applying to university. If you’d like to get personalised support with your application and admissions process, or just have questions about applying to Brunel, please reach out to the team.

Financing your studies and student discounts

We appreciate that studying at university is a huge financial commitment. However, there’s various forms of financial support available to help you.

You could qualify for the Care Leaver Bursary. This is a cash award to all eligible students beginning a full-time Undergraduate course or a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at Brunel University London and the Brunel Pathway College (BPC).

Your accommodation at Brunel is guaranteed all year round and as a care leaver you’ll receive a deposit waiver.

If you decide to commute rather than live on campus, you can get 1/3 off most train fares with a Railcard. You can save 30% on Travelcards and bus and tram passes with the 18+ Student Oyster photocard. We also have parking available on campus - you can apply for an annual parking permit or use pay and display. 

You can apply for student finance as a care leaver. The amount you get depends on various factors - please check the government website for full details of what you may be entitled to. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may also be eligible for additional government support from council tax discount to variable financial support. 

As a Brunel student, you’ll be able to apply for a TOTUM card (the new NUS Extra card) which offers a range of discounts across a number of retailers. There are also lots of companies who offer student discounts for various products and services. 

We know that sometimes unexpected events can happen. If you find yourself struggling financially, you can apply to the University Hardship Fund for extra support.

If you’re looking for paid work to fit around your studies, Brunel can help you. After joining Brunel, you’ll have the opportunity to become a Widening Access Student Ambassador. This is paid work, representing Brunel. You could be answering questions online about your course through to helping out at Open Days. There are many other job opportunities both on and off campus and Brunel's Job Shop is here to help you find something suitable.

Placements are a great option to give you a head start in your career when you graduate. Our Professional Development Centre is here to offer you guidance and support on finding a placement relevant to your studies. Placements can be paid or unpaid. If you’re receiving the Care Leavers Bursary you’ll be automatically eligible for an Unpaid Placement Bursary if you take an unpaid placement.

Preparing for your studies

We want to support you as best we can before you arrive, so we’ve created a series of sample lectures and workshops to help get you ready for university and make you feel more confident about studying at Brunel.

Before you arrive, you’ll probably have already had a lot of contact with our admissions team and widening access officer, Karen Western, to help prepare you for life at Brunel. Karen will be on hand from the moment you start your application to offer any guidance and support you need; from completing forms to answering any queries you may have.

 You’ll also have the opportunity to attend pre-sessional induction events before starting your studies at Brunel. At these events, you’ll have the chance to get to know other students, including care leavers, ahead of starting your course, as well as attending informal talks from our support services. One of them you might be eligible for is our HeadStart programme. This runs before Welcome Week and is both an introduction to the academic study skills you’ll need to succeed at university and an opportunity to meet Brunel staff who offer different support services you can rely on while studying with us. 

View our ‘after you have applied’ pages for additional information on what to expect once you've applied for one of our courses.

Support during your studies

At Brunel we’re committed to ensuring you receive the right support as a care leaver. Brunel is a member of the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) an organisation supporting care experienced students in further and higher education. We’ve put together a range of support. This includes:

  • Accommodation deposit waiver
  • Guaranteed year-round accommodation, if required, for the duration of your course
  • HeadStart – an induction to the university before freshers' week
  • Access to regular support
  • Social events
  • Access to wellbeing services including counselling, dyslexia, disability and learning support
  • Academic skills
  • The opportunity to become a widening access student ambassador (paid part-time work to complement your studies)
  • The opportunity in year one to participate in the paid Brunel summer internship programme
  • The opportunity in year two to participate in the Brunel widening participation professional mentoring scheme, which links students with a business mentor
  • Access to the graduation support package including free cap, gown and photography package

In addition, our Student Services will be there to ensure you have a supportive environment whilst studying with us. The Student Centre will help you with a wide range of administrative enquiries and support services through your student journey from registration to graduation. 

You’ll have access to our Professional Development Centre throughout your studies and three years post qualifying. They provide help and guidance to support with finding your placement, part-time student jobs and volunteering roles. Additionally, they provide services like career advice and employability courses, job interview preparation, help to start your business and learning a new language. 

 Our students' union is also there, not just to provide you with advice in case you need it, but they organise lots of social and sports activities you can join.

Visit our campus life pages to explore life at Brunel.

After you graduate

After you graduate, you'll become a member of our alumni family, and you will have access to our unique community to help grow and enrich your professional network. You can also take advantage of a range of benefits and support that includes access to our online alumni network, free careers support, discounts on further study, access to facilities on campus, and many more. 

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