All Scottish care leavers to be offered university places

Family Law|March 24th 2016

All young people leaving care in Scotland will be offered a place at university, the First Minister has announced, as long as they achieve the required exam grades.

The youngsters will also receive a full bursary of £7,625, said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – the equivalent of the university grants which have now been completely abolished in England.

The scheme will come into force from the beginning of the academic year in 2017. Sturgeon said she wanted to reduce the attainment gap amongst care leavers, who are currently six times less likely to go to university than other young people.

The First Minister said:

“We are working to ensure that every young person in Scotland has a fair chance to study at university, take a modern apprenticeship or gain experience in the workplace. This step, which provides extra, targeted help to those who most need it, is emblematic of our wider approach. I want every young person in Scotland – regardless of gender, wealth, or their family circumstances – to have a fair chance to succeed.”

South of the border, meanwhile, just six per cent of care leavers are currently in higher education according to recent government figures.

Photo by Ewan McIntosh via Flickr

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  1. Andrew says:

    The Scots must do as they see fit but this appears grossly unfair to the applicant who does not get the place. It is not that person’s fault that smother person was in care and the failures of the care system should not be visited on the applicant who was not in care.

  2. D says:

    Interesting idea. On the face of it sounds good and progressive. But yes people outside care can be disadvantaged as well.

  3. Andrew says:

    I make no bones about my opinion: University should admit after A-Levels, on results, not projections, and for the following year so that everyone takes a gap year. Some would not take up the placed but I believe that they would correlate with those who at present do not go the distance but drop out with nothing to show for it but wasted time and big debts.
    And then the application form need not say what school or what sort of school you went to, not whether your parents went to University or what they did for a living; all that East German stuff which should never have been introduced and should now be dropped. No prejudice and no social engineering, because you cannot be influenced by what you don’t know.

  4. M says:

    Bursaries are also available for other disadvantaged students in Scotland, this policy just adds “care leaver” to the list of qualifying factors.

    In terms of guarenteed entry (for minimum requirements) not being fair to non-care leavers, given that care leavers have usually suffered a level of trauma and educational interruption, their exam results are likely to be negatively affected. Entry on min requirements will compensate for that while ensuring that they have the necessary prior educational background to complete the course.

    This will be especially useful for the Ancient universities, where entry selection can often be determined by extra-curricular activities that care leavers have had less access to, and which tend to recruit from the most advantaged and privilaged sections of Scottish society, strengthening the diversity of these institutions.

    • Andrew says:

      Why not mark their exam papers less strictly while you are about it?

      The fact remains that the better qualified applicant who does not make the cut loses out and it is just plain wrong.

      If the extra-curricular activities make a better student why not prefer those who have it? Not “fair”? Life is not fair!

      • anonymous says:

        Ok as a care leaver and someone who lives in Scotland I have to say that you have no idea how difficult it is for someone in care to maintain and secure their education due to various environmental factors which are out of their hands. I do not agree on every policy the SNP makes, however regarding this and other moves they have made to support people like myself I will definitely be voting for them in the election. Thirdly why do you have these views, I’m genuinely intrigued to know your reasoning behind your quite frankly absurd comments.

        • Andrew says:

          All right: here goes.
          Different children face different hurdles. Some come from materially excellent backgrounds but have parents who put them in the hands of nannies and prep-school teachers from their earliest days just to avoid interacting with them. Others are allowed to lose themselves in front of screens for hours on end. Others have parents like Mr Ritchie and Ms Ciccione. As you say, “various environmental factors which are out of their hands”, and we all have to make the best of what life gives us.
          it is typical SNP-Leftie to isolate one sympathetic and easily-identified group and mark them out for special treatment. I repeat my question: would you mark their exam papers less strictly while you are about it?
          I hope you make a go of your life, anonymous, and I hope that when the time comes your children face a level playing field when seeking to enter higher education: not one made unlevel by politicians seeking votes and soundbites.

          • Luke says:

            I would give children from care homes the nod over others where the qualifications are a tie – in other words their care home experience trumps any extra-curricular activities that others might have – but otherwise I think Andrew is right, you have to get the grades, it’s as simple as that.
            The best you can aim for is to be just, because life isn’t fair, and once you start giving places not based on merit where does it end ?
            Some children are just more intelligent than others, that is TOTALLY unfair, perhaps we should lobotomise the smart ones to even it up…

          • Andrew says:

            There is no such thing as a tie. We get the same nonsense in discrimination law. If you think there is a tie between A and B but B has a claim by reason of being female or black or ex-care ask yourself what you would do if B was male or white or not ex-care but otherwise identical. And act accordingly.

          • JamesB says:

            You may not get the Notting Hill (film) reference, but you don’t get the chocolate brownie for that Andrew. Indeed it was a bit of a let them eat cake (Marie Antoinette) comment. Indeed similar to your statement that if people can’t afford thousands for a pre nup then they wont have enough to protect anyway. I had it tough so I can see how others had it (even) tougher and easier than I, I don’t think its coincidence that we have old Etonians and old Harrovians as establishment politicians and Judges. We agree on most things, but not those two Marie 😉 regards, James.

          • JamesB says:

            I am English so don’t get a vote on the SNP.

            That said I wouldn’t vote Tory just to keep them out as many did, that is silly, but as you rightly said in your last sentence, which had some weight to it, it is a difficult subject, much of politics is silly. That said its better to try than not on this subject. The kid with a hard back book to rest on with no time in front of the tv in shared room, with no money, having to spend ages going to a sink school, doesn’t get the chance the kid with a study room and tutors does. I would go on about how I had to work weekends morning and evenings and look after family, which was partly why I raised Rocco, but I think you get the point.

  5. JamesB says:

    It is harder to learn in some environments than others. Trying to level the playing field is a good use of politicians time. My mother was brought up in an orphanage and these people need all the help they can get.

    I say this as I have seen overqualified posh people not good at their jobs and underqualified bright working class people without possibility of advancement quite a lot. Add to that the help rich people get from their families get towards housing and childcare and tutoring etc it all adds up towards being a bit too much of a weighted game without any possibility of social mobility.

    It is a difficult task to do though as some claim disadvantage when they weren’t and some rich kids are given no help when their parents are at war for instance. Rocco Ritchie springs to mind.

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