Logo Alt Text will go here

OxfordshireChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Care Leavers Higher Education Financial Policy


List of payments expected to be covered as essentials by the Local Authority for Former Relevant young people engaged in Higher Education.

This document has been informed by The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers

'Care leavers are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion because they will have to make their transition to adulthood much earlier than most other young people. Local authority financial policies should aim to mirror the types of support that families provide, to be flexible to the differing needs of care leavers and to be aware of the fact that they are often being required to be financially capable and competent early in their adulthood. Local authorities should support looked after children and care leavers to manage their financial resources and money, gradually helping them to take responsibility for themselves, but recognise that the process of successful learning may involve learning from mistakes, taking risks and a requirement that a second chance with related financial support may be required'.


In January 2019, this procedure was updated throughout to reflect local practice.


  1. Purpose
  2. Eligibility
  3. Financial Support
  4. Financial Schedule
  5. Repayment Facts
  6. Other Grants and Useful websites
  7. Higher Education - Checklist for Workers with Students Starting and Attending University

1. Purpose

Under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 the local authority has a duty to support young people leaving care in Higher Education. This support has multiple elements including financial, practical and emotional support.

The objective of this policy is to produce a financial schedule setting out the financial support for young people engaging in Higher Education and the eligibility for this support. This is to be read and delivered alongside the Financial Policy for E, R & FR in semi or independent living.

2. Eligibility

This policy applies to all Former Relevant or previously Former Relevant Care Leavers (21+) who are eligible to access courses of higher education (level 4+) at a publically funded UK institution and student finance as Settled Home Students up until the age of 25yrs at the start of the course and, as agreed appropriate within Pathway Planning.

All proposals for university funding must address immigration status and career planning prior to any approval being granted by Team Managers and Area Service Managers. This is essential prior to recording within a Pathway Plan that the local authority will fund and support university placements.

Those who are 'settled' in the UK and meet the main residence requirements:

In order to qualify for 'home' fees under this category, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  1. You must be settled in the UK on the first day of the first academic year of the course; and
  2. You must be ordinarily resident in the UK on the first day of the first academic year of the course; and
  3. You must also have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands for the full three year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course - e.g. if your course begins in October 2013, you must have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands from 1 September 2010 to 31 August 2013; and
  4. The main purpose for your residence in the UK and Islands must not have been to receive full-time education during any part of that three-year period


'Settled' means being both ordinarily resident in the UK and without any immigration restriction on the length of your stay in the UK. The regulations refer to immigration law for the definition of 'settled'.

If you have the Right of Abode (including those people who have this by virtue of a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode), or Indefinite Leave to Enter/Remain (ILE/R), in the UK, then you are 'settled'. If your passport describes you as a 'British citizen', then you also have the Right of Abode and are, therefore, settled.

Nationals of other European Union (EU) member states who have acquired the right of permanent residence under EC law are also settled but will not generally qualify under categories which require 'settled' status. Such people can qualify under other categories, if they meet the appropriate criteria.

You are not 'settled' if:

  • You have a time limit on the length of your stay in the UK, as shown by your current immigration permission (i.e. you have a 'limited leave');
  • You are exempt from immigration control, for example you are living in the UK as a diplomat or a member of their household/family;
  • You have a type of British passport that does not give you British citizenship, e.g. British National (Overseas).

If care leaver does not currently meet the eligibility criteria for settled status or home fees then discussions should be held with relevant parties to explore alternatives and review options regularly with pathway planning. Discussions must take place with the UASC Senior Practitioner regarding immigration status and eligibility.

3. Financial Support

This policy expects that all young people engaged in Higher Education and covered by this policy will apply for all funding they are eligible for and that they will apply for a student bank account with an interest free overdraft.

Any earned income generated by the student during their studies will not affect the financial schedule. In this way it is hoped the young person will minimise their total debt on completion.

Under the Children Act 1989 (Higher Education Bursary)(England) Regulations 2009 the local authority has a duty to pay a bursary to each young person leaving care engaging in qualifying courses of a minimum of £2000.

Vacation Accommodation

Under section 24b a local authority must provide vacation accommodation (or financial assistance to enable such agreed accommodation to be secured) for Former Relevant and s24 young people in full-time residential further education or higher education where accommodation is only available during term-time.

As good corporate parents we want to ensure that young people leaving care are supported to aspire to and engage in Higher Education where this is the most appropriate route for their academic, professional and personal development. Given the level of debt accumulated during university studies it is essential that Careers Advice is sought to ensure that this is the best plan for the young person.

Monitoring, Support and Engagement Requirements

As good corporate parents we expect that young people coming up through local authority care will have had on-going input around key life skills such as money management, healthy living and cooking skills, self-care and presentation skills and that they will be well placed to manage their independent situation. However, it is also expected that the local authority, as good parents, will continue to work on these issues with young people throughout their Higher Education career therefore any financial and practical support for Higher Education will be on the understanding that young people will remain in contact with the local authority and engage in the pathway planning process.

The Pathway Plan must set out the arrangements for care leavers and their PA to keep in touch. PA's must have face to face contact with the care leaver/young person. They may also expect regular exchanges of text messages, emails and phone conversations. All agreements regarding keeping in touch must be recorded as agreed with the y/p in their pathway plan.

Contact may be undertaken on occasion by a third party e.g. Virtual School EET worker, HEI Student Support worker, tutor, specific care leaver contact within the HEI. This must be recorded as agreed with the y/p in their pathway plan and the third party report written into the visiting episode.

Where the young person is finding studying difficult the PA must meet with the young person, Virtual School EET coordinator and HEI contact person to support the young person in order to avoid disengagement or dropping off the course.

Where the Looked After and Leaving Care Service is unable to communicate with the HEI (due to the y/p refusal to give consent) in order to fully support a young person who is failing or disengaging in their course, the looked-after and leaving care service will be unable to continue to offer financial support.

Workers must use the Checklist within this document for all uni students and this information recorded on file and within the pathway plan.

Decision-making is made at ground level on a daily basis according to the policy via the Pathway Plan and subject to the monitoring and quality assurance procedures in place for this service.

4. Financial Schedule

Students on 3 year undergraduate degree beginning September 2009 or later.

Source What Amount Re-payable Payment schedule
Government Funding
(Student Finance England)
Tuition Fee loan Up to £9,250 max p.a. Yes Paid direct to university
Maintenance loan Up to £8,700 p.a.
Up to (£11,354 p.a. in London)
Yes Termly to student = 9 payments in total over 3 year degree course
Parents, Lone Parent's and Disability Allowances/ Special Support Grant.

Depending on circumstances as assessed by Student Finance England

See Child care grant, Care 2 Learn, Parent learning Allowance.

No Termly to student = 9 payments in total over 3 year degree course.
[discuss any additional support needs with a member of the Virtual School post-16 team]
Higher Education Institution National Scholarship Programme/ Bursary Variable dependent on HEI No Termly to student = 9 payments in total over 3 year degree course
Local Authority Bursary Local Authority Bursary £250 per payment to make a total of £2000 over 8 terms No Termly to student in December, March and June until March of the final year inclusive = 8 payments over 3 year degree totalling £2000
Local Authority Additional Funding SUHA allowance if needed e.g. kitchen ware and linen As needed up to £2000. Accessible until 25yrs No Direct to student or shop as arranged with LCPA
Computer if needed Max £500 No Direct to student or shop as arranged with LCPA
Travel to and from university at the beginning and end of term. Plus one 'family' contact per term (as agreed with LCPA) Depends on distance. Also includes visiting during application process and moving costs No Direct to student as arranged with LCPA
Term-time bus pass if needed Depending on circumstances and if not provided by the University/HEI No Direct to student as arranged with LCPA
Essential Reading/Kit/Equipment As needed No As negotiated and direct to student as arranged with LCPA
Vacation accommodation £ LHA oxford city equivalent per vacation week/daily rate if half or odd weeks of leave No Direct to student on a weekly basis until end of August after completion of degree.
Official university term dates and dates for vacating accommodation must be produced to evidence payment.
Leisure Via university facilities where possible. No Direct to student or shop as arranged with LCPA
Health Student to apply for HC1 support. Exceptional health costs to be discussed with LCPA. Travel to hospital appointments outside the young person's locality paid by local authority No

HC1 support as directed on the form

Any additional payments direct to student as arranged with LCPA

Graduation -photos, gown hire and contribution to ball ticket etc. As needed No One-off in final term
Graduation/Celebration meal £45 - for worker and student meal No Worker to take student out for celebration and pay via OCC finance system.
Completion grant £1000 No August after successful completion of degree only

Courses lasting longer than 3 years

The basic principles applying to 3 year undergraduate degree apply, other than that for undergraduate degrees lasting longer than three years, for example medicine and dentistry, termly bursary payments will continue, with the £1000 completion grant reducing proportionately until the overall total of £3000 pounds has been paid.

Post graduate course requests are to be considered on merit and determined case by case with the approval sought from the Director of Children's Services.

5. Repayment Facts

Any loans taken out by students since 1 September 2012 are repayable from April 2016. Repayments are made through the tax system; the amount they repay on a monthly basis depends on their income, not how much they borrowed.

More information can be found at the Student Loans Company Repayment website.

6. Other Grants and Useful websites

Virtual school post-16 team Separate guidance to applying as a new or continuing student is available from the Virtual School for care leavers.

Email address: virtualschool.LAC@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Webpage: The Oxfordshire County Council intranet

The Helena Kennedy Foundation[^] provides financial, and other, support to a particular group of people who are not eligible for student loans in the usual way; specifically, it supports asylum seekers, those with Discretionary Leave, and/or the family members of such people. It does this through its Article 26 Project[^] awards scheme. You need to meet certain eligibility criteria and you must be studying, or planning to study, on an undergraduate degree programme at one of a specific number of English universities.

UCAS: for course application plus a range of additional resources such as budget planning, finance calculator and explanations of UCAS tariffs when calculating offers and UCAS terms.

Student Finance: for all forms and guidance for registration and application for funding.

Opendays: for finding and booking open days and visits to HEIs.

Buttle uk: for identifying HEIs with the Buttle UK Quality Mark and other support and information for care leavers studying at HEIs.

The Who Cares Trust: guide to HE specifically for care leavers.

7. Higher Education - Checklist for Workers with Students Starting and Attending University

If you have young people starting a higher education course in September then this is intended to complement the HE policy to allow you to check everything is in place:

Topic area Action required Complete?
Course/Offer Confirm the conditions of their UCAS offer, and that the YP meets those that are not dependent on results due over the summer (e.g. GCSE maths/English or equivalent)  
Does the YP have a plan to collect any results (e.g. A2) and access appropriate support (school/ college/Virtual School) if they are not as expected  
Is the YP expected to buy any equipment/books before starting?  
Does the YP have an appropriate computer, or have arrangements been made to purchase one  
Funding/ Finance Has the YP received a copy of the HE policy financial schedule (section 4)  
Have they applied for the appropriate financial support from Student Finance England (including any additional support re: disabilities or parental/caring responsibilities)  
Has the YP updated their Student Finance England online account to reflect any changes of circumstances (e.g. course/uni changes, changes of address, student bank account details).  
Has the YP investigated (and where appropriate applied for) additional financial support available from the higher education institution  
Has the YP researched and applied for a student bank account (and overdraft facility - this is not automatic)  
Have plans been made to inform appropriate benefit agencies of the change of circumstances in becoming a full-time HE student  
Accommodation Has appropriate accommodation been applied for/secured  
If appropriate, has the accommodation provider been advised of care-leaver status (re: 52 week tenancy options/deposit waivers)  
If a deposit is required in advance (i.e. the provider is not willing to wait until student finance received), and this has been lent to the YP, is there a written agreement in place for repayment  
Have arrangements been made for you to visit the accommodation within the first term  
Have arrangements been made to give notice on existing accommodation  
Has consideration been given to any items the YP may require as part of a Setting Up Home Allowance  
Have the arrangements for moving into the accommodation been discussed and agreed  
Will the YP need support with transport costs whilst at university  
Support Have the relevant named contacts at the higher education institution been identified and contacted (specific care-leaver contact, student services, finance, accommodation, tutor)  
Has a consent to share information (with the above contacts) agreement been discussed with, and, if appropriate/required, signed by the YP  
Has the local authority leaving care team which covers the university been informed of our YP moving into the area  
Health Has the YP been reminded of the necessity of registering with a GP/dentist/optician in their new location  
If the YP has any specific health needs, has contact been made with the relevant university or local area support networks  
Does the YP know how to obtain a HC1 form for support with health care costs  
Ongoing Have you had a discussion, and reached agreement about ongoing contact and visits  
Are you aware of term dates in order to calculate additional vacation accommodation payments  
Have you set reminders to pay the local authority bursary payments at the end of each term  
Have you discussed opportunities for your YP to gain relevant work experience during their vacations - including via our Employability scheme if they are coming back to Oxfordshire