Support for care leavers and care experienced students at ARU

When you start studying at ARU, our Student Experience Team becomes your main point of contact. We're here to support you throughout your studies.

Our Student Experience Team is here to support you throughout your time at ARU. The team includes Sarah, Adele and Jamie.

Sarah or Adele will be your main point of contact depending on where you're studying.

However, if you'd rather speak to a male, just let us know and we can arrange for Jamie to be your point of contact.

Sarah Webber

Sarah Webber
Student Experience Coordinator,

Profile photo of Adele Woodhams

Adele Woodhams
Student Experience Coordinator,

Profile photo of Jamie Carson

Jamie Carson
Student Experience Manager

Read more about read more about the student experience team.

If you have let ARU know about your care experience in some way as you start at ARU, this information will be passed on to us so we can support you as you start your studies at ARU. This could be by:

  • ticking the box on your UCAS form to let us know that you’re leaving local authority care
  • you or your Local Authority contacting our Outreach team directly before you arrive
  • ticking the box on your ARU Registration form to say you are a Care Leaver/Care Experienced
  • being assessed as a Care Leaver by Student Finance England.

If you attend the Welcome event for Care Leaver/Care Experienced students, we will meet you there!

We will check in with you during your first six weeks at ARU, talk you through all the support available to you specifically, and will agree what you would like our contact to look like going forward (for example, a monthly phone call or email check in, a less regular check in, or us simply keeping you up to date with our monthly newsletter).

We will give you information and advice about a range of support and can refer you to other specialist services if relevant and with your consent. We are here to support you through your ARU journey, and you can always get in touch with us using our dedicated email address [email protected]. We will be happy to help.

We know that some students don’t feel comfortable declaring that they are a Care Leaver/Care Experienced at the start of the studies as they are worried they will be treated negatively - please be assured that this is not the case at ARU. You can contact us at any point in your studies and we will be happy to help!

Read more about read more about first contact with the student experience team.

Following feedback from our current students, each month we send out a monthly newsletter summarising the support on offer to Care Leaver and Care Experienced students at ARU.

There is so much on offer, we know this can feel overwhelming, so we use this newsletter to draw attention to specific opportunities, deadlines, events or any other relevant information at key points in the year. This is in addition to any check in phone calls or emails that we have agreed.

Read more about read more about our monthly newsletter.

We hired 3 current Care Leaver students to help steer our support and project work in the summer of 2021 to help us to take our work forward and check we were on the right path.

We are doing our best to continually improve the support we offer to Care Leaver and Care Experienced students at ARU and continue to learn from our students about what support they would find most valuable.

If you have any ideas of other areas you would like us to explore, please email us on [email protected]

Read more about read more about the ongoing work of the student experience team.

Accommodation and commuting information

If you’ve been in local authority care on or after your 16th birthday, you'll be eligible for University-managed accommodation throughout your studies in Cambridge and Chelmsford:

As a Care Leaver you are also eligible for 365-day accommodation within University-managed accommodation throughout your studies (regardless of whether you are a September or January starter). However, this will be made up of two contracts each year – for example for a September starter, this would be made up of an initial let (September-June) and a summer let (June-September). Although you may be required to move rooms between lets, please be assured that you will not be left without accommodation at any point.

To notify Residential Services of your Care Leaver status, you can either contact the team directly or you can contact the Student Experience Team at [email protected] who can support you with this.

If you have any questions about accessing accommodation as a Care Leaver at ARU, both the Residential Service Team and the Student Experience Team would be happy to help.

Read more about more about aru accommodation (care leavers only).

Our Residential Service team can also assist you to secure accommodation in the private rented sector.

If you decide to commute rather than live on campus, you can find out everything you need to know about planning your route on our travel pages. There are separate pages for Cambridge, Chelmsford, Peterborough and Writtle. Meanwhile our Student Travel Discounts guide explains how to make the most of local bus and train discounts.

Money Support

Debbie Barker (Student Money Adviser) supports the Student Experience Team to offer Care Leavers and Care Experienced students advice on any funding or money related questions. She can advise you on what funding is available, how to apply and what you might receive as well as discussing management.

You can contact her using our [email protected] email address.

Care Leavers starting university should receive a £2,000 Higher Education Bursary from their Local Authority to help with the costs of university life. This will usually be paid in instalments over the duration of your course. All local authorities must pay a bursary to Care Leavers who go on to higher education.

Some local authorities choose to provide further support in excess of this £2,000. This can be in the form of help with housing costs, a weekly allowance, or support towards tuition fees. You are advised to contact your local authority to discuss what support is available and in what form, as this varies between authorities.

The £2,000 Higher Education Bursary is available to any Care Leaver who started a course of higher education on or after September 2008 and before their 25th birthday.

Read more about more about higher education bursary (care leavers only).

Care Leavers starting an apprenticeship at ARU may be eligible for the Apprenticeships Care Leavers’ Bursary from their local authority. For an apprentice to be eligible for the Apprenticeships Care Leavers’ Bursary, they must:

  • be aged under 25 at the time they start their apprenticeship
  • not have received the Apprenticeships Care Leavers’ Bursary before
  • be either an eligible child, a relevant child, or a former relevant child

For those starting their apprenticeship on or after 1 August 2023, the bursary will be £3,000. It is payable in instalments over the first year of the apprenticeship. For further information, including how to apply, please contact Amy Deal, Compliance Manager (Degrees at Work): [email protected].

Full-time students under 25 are either classed as independent or dependent on their parents'/legal guardian's household income. Students who are married or have dependent children at the start of their course are automatically classed as independent.

Under 25s are usually classed as dependent but, if evidence is supplied that shows that you have spent time in care or are estranged from your parents, you can be assessed as independent which usually means maximum funding.

If you have studied before in Higher Education, you should contact the Student Money Advice Service to discuss the previous study regulations and how this may impact you. Sometimes if you had to leave your previous course due to “Compelling Personal Reasons” you can be granted additional funding.

For further information on what funding is available please see the our Help with finances pages.

Read more about more about commuting.

Students supported by their Local Authority as a Care Leaver or those who have resided in a Foyer prior to starting the course may be eligible for the Care Leavers Bursary via the Learning Support Fund.

This is a grant of up to £1,500 (£2,000 in final year) which can be applied for once you start your course at ARU. For further information, eligibility criteria and details on how to apply, please visit our Care Leaver and Foyer (Supported Accommodation) page.

If you are struggling to pay the £300 to secure your ARU accommodation please contact Debbie on [email protected] or by calling 01245 684288 to discuss if we can defer payment until you receive your student funding.

If you are planning on moving into the private sector, we are unable to move the due date for any deposits but in exceptional circumstances we may be able to pay any Care Leaver’s Bursary early.

The Student Money Advice Service can advise you on what funding is available, how to apply and what you may receive as well as discussing money management to help make your money go further. Email [email protected] or by call 01245 686700

Read more about more about aru support with accommodation deposits (care leavers only).

We have Hardship Funds if you find yourself struggling financially during university, Care Leavers and estranged students are a priority for these.

You can find out more here:

We also have additional funds to help with the cost of diagnostic testing and any costs associated with Disabled Students Allowance, help if you have unpaid placements as part of your course, grants for overseas experiences including study abroad or field trips, as well as an Internship Bursary.

Read more about more about additional aru funds.

As an ARU student, you will be able to apply for a TOTUM 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, and you can find out more on our Students’ Union website.

Our Students’ Union run a fund with the aim of removing barriers to participation and engagement with Students’ Union activity for any students who may incur extra costs in order to take part. As a Care Leaver, you may be eligible to benefit from it. Find out more about the Inclusion Fund.

Employability for Care Leavers

Staff profile photo of Sarah Sterling

Sarah Sterling (Employability and Careers Adviser) supports the Student Experience Team to offer Care Leavers and Care Experienced students support with all aspects of Employability.

You can contact her using our [email protected] email address.

The support they offer includes:

  1. A named Careers Adviser as your first point of contact and offer of a careers appointment when you commence your studies
  2. A dedicated careers page where you will find updates on specific opportunities and information on accessing support with employability skills such as CV and letter writing, interview preparation and a jobs board.
  3. Support in finding temporary work and internships through ARU Temps
  4. Lifelong access to Career Centre, the Employability Service platform
  5. Mentoring at ARU programme, giving you access to a professional contact
  6. Career events, self-development and employer led workshops
  7. Support in exploring and managing your career options through faculty and school career pages and individual career appointments
  8. Placement support for students on a degree with a placement year
  9. Support for students thinking about starting their own business or self-employment through Anglia Ruskin Enterprise Academy
  10. Final year and graduate support from a Graduate Development Employability and Careers Adviser
Read more about read more about employability support whilst you are a student.

Employability Activators are students that play an important role within the Employability Service. It’s their job to help promote the professional self-development services and resources that we offer to you, and Care Leaver students are prioritised for this role.

The Activators are vocal about sharing their personal experiences and thoughts on the importance of building employability skills while at university. They encourage their peers to focus on their future by preparing to enter the workplace or going on to further education.

You can find out more info about the Activator role here:

How to apply?

Send your CV directly to Katie Johnson via e-mail [email protected]

Don’t forget to include an email to say that you are applying from the care leaver community, to ensure your application is prioritised.

Read more about read more about becoming an aru employability activator (paid role).

At ARU, we have a team of Student Ambassadors and Senior Student Ambassadors that support prospective students who are thinking about applying to ARU or make informed decisions about their future.

Our ambassadors are responsible for supporting our on campus and virtual events by giving an insight into life as a student at ARU. This role is paid and flexible to fit around your studies and supports you in developing your skills in public speaking, delivering subject sessions and communicating with a range of students from different backgrounds.

We are seeking Care Leaver students to join our Care Leaver Ambassador team to help support students making their application to ARU and by creating a reassuring and encouraging transition to university.

To find out more about the role and apply, visit Student Ambassador scheme - ARU

Read more about read more about becoming a care leaver student ambassador (paid role).

Being an ARU Alum, gives you lifelong free access to our Alumni Careers Centre resources which include: graduate job searching function, e-learning materials, Labour Market Information tool, dedicated graduate scheme page and a wide range of events, webinars and workshops to support ARU Alumni through their career development.  

For recent graduates we offer:

  • Careers advice, including one-to-one appointments with a dedicated Graduate Development Employability Adviser 
  • Help with your CV, job searches, applications and interview preparation
  • Job Fairs, Webinars, Networking
  • An online Careers Centre packed with useful careers resources
Read more about read more about employability support after graduation.

As well as the support specific to Care Leavers and Care Experienced students at ARU, you can also access all the general support on offer to all students at ARU. You can contact all of these services directly, or the Student Experience Team can support you in making contact if you wish.

  • Student and Library Services – this includes the Counselling and Wellbeing Services, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, Study Skills Plus and the Welcome Buddy Scheme – and lots more!
  • Students’ Union – this includes their Advice Service and all their clubs and societies – and lots more!
Read more about read more about other support at aru.

Every year, ARU joins in celebrating National Care Leavers Week (at the end of October) to celebrate the successes of Care Leavers studying with us, and to raise awareness of the support on offer across the institution. Keep an eye on ARU’s social media pages and ARU news for what is coming up at the next National Care Leavers Week!

Upon graduating, you will automatically become a member of our Alumni Network, where you and you will receive a range of benefits and services, including lifelong career support, discounts on further study, access and discounts to ARU facilities, and more.