Northern Ireland

Foster care UCAS applicants 'must not miss university support'

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Media captionUniversity applicants who have been in care are being urged to include this information on UCAS forms

Students applying for university who have spent time in care could be missing out on support, a Northern Ireland-based charity has warned.

The Fostering Network NI says bursaries, assistance to settle into university life and help to find accommodation are available.

However, applicants must first let colleges know about their background.

The charity's "Tick the Box" campaign encourages them to indicate on their UCAS form they have been in care.

It does not affect offers of university places.

'Active support'

Launching the campaign, charity director Margaret Kelly said its aim was to "empower care-experienced young people to get the advice and support on offer and encourage all of those involved in their lives to support them in doing so".

She added: "We are working with the University of Ulster and the Health and Social Care Board to launch this campaign to ensure all those involved in a looked-after child's life enable them to fulfil their aspirations.

"That means foster carers actively supporting young people to go to university, health trusts providing funding and support for the young person attending university and the universities themselves offering active support and encouragement."

A foster carer who is looking after a young person applying for a university place next year has given her backing to the campaign.

Jillian Dalton said: "I know that as a foster carer you need to go the extra mile to support a looked after young person through their journey of education.

"This is especially important if you want to help them overcome the barriers they face and to enable them to succeed educationally.

"I welcome this important and positive initiative. It will help looked-after young people to access and be supported through third-level education, and enable them to achieve their full potential."

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