Care experienced people comprise one of the most under-represented groups within higher education.  Here are some key facts and figures based on an analysis of HESA data from the 2020 Positive Impact research report.  

  • Care experienced students and graduates are more likely to be women, older, disabled, of Black, Mixed or other Asian ethnicity, and holding a nationality other than British. They are notably less likely to have an Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi ethnicity.
  • Care experienced graduates are more likely to have lower and non-traditional entry qualifications and to have entered their last course from a sub-degree course (e.g. a foundation degree or diploma). They are also more likely to have just graduated from a sub-degree course and less likely to have studied at a higher tariff university. 
  • Care experienced graduates are over-represented in social sciences, computer science/technology, law/business/communications and creative arts, but notably under-represented in natural sciences, mathematics/ engineering/construction, languages/history/philosophy.
  • They are less likely to get a first or upper second class degree than others. In part, this is related to the fact that they are more likely to be pursuing non-degree courses that are not graded in this way. However, even once entry qualifications are taken into account, care experienced graduates are less likely than other graduates to have secured a first or upper second.
  • Based on the Destinations of Leavers in Higher Education (DLHE) survey data from 2017, 68.1% of care experienced degree graduates were in some form of work (or waiting to start), compared to 72.5% for other degree graduates. The main basis of this difference was that care experienced degree graduates were somewhat less likely to be in full-time work. 
  • Conversely, 27.9% of care experienced degree graduates were undertaking further full-time or part-time study, compared to 24.6% of other graduates. 
  • Care experienced degree graduates were somewhat more likely to be unemployed than other graduates (5.5%, compared to 4.4%) and engaged in ‘other’ activities (5.7%, compared to 4.4%) which included caring, travelling and long-term sickness.

Widening participation data on care experienced people in higher education around the UK:

  • Scotland: Scottish Funding Council Report on Widening Access 2021-22: In 2021-22, 1.6% of Scottish-domiciled full-time first-degree entrants were care-experienced. That represents 545 entrants, up 60 from the 2020-21 figure.  In 2021-22, 2.0% of Scottish-domiciled entrants to undergraduate courses at Scotland’s colleges and universities were care-experienced. That’s up from 1.9% in 2020-21, and it represents an increase of 35 care-experienced students.  In the college sector, 3.9% of enrolments to full-time HE and 9.6% of enrolments to full-time FE courses in 2021-22 were from care-experienced students. That’s up from 3.6% (full-time HE) and in line with the 9.6% (full-time FE) figures in 2020-21.  
  • Wales: no current public data are available on the participation of care experienced people in HE, but the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales has included care experienced students as one of the priority groups in its Reaching Wider initiative. 
  • Northern Ireland: National Statistics Northern Ireland Care Leavers 2021/22 report: of the care leavers aged 19 in 2021/22, whose economic activity was known, 61 (31%) were in full- or part-time education, 34 (17%) were in full- or part-time training and 51 (26%) were in full or part-time employment. Of those care leavers in education, 21 were in higher education (19 in 2020/21).  

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