Care experienced students discuss the challenges they have faced at university
Deputy First Minister John Swinney today met students who have benefited from a project which increases the educational opportunities open to people who have spent time in care.
Mr Swinney visited the Edinburgh-based HUB for SUCCESS to discuss the experiences of the young people, who included a teenager in foster care who is planning to study at university and others who have already entered further and higher education.
The HUB for SUCCESS (Support for University and College for Care Experienced in South-East Scotland) operates from the City of Edinburgh Council Customer Hub in the Royal Mile.
The project was launched to try to counter the trend of care experienced young people leaving school at the minimum age, and only a very low proportion going directly from school to university.
The HUB provides individual information and advice on education opportunities, accommodation and finance, both on a drop-in basis and by making home/campus visits. In just over a year in operation it has supported more than 100 care experienced people of all ages to get in, stay in or return to education.
Mr Swinney, who is the Cabinet Secretary for Education, was welcomed to the HUB by Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal of Edinburgh Napier University. The university is one of the HUB’s core partners alongside the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, Queen Margaret University, the Open University in Scotland, Edinburgh College, Newbattle Abbey College and City of Edinburgh Council.
Mr Swinney met Hannah Scott-Rose, 20, from Clermiston, who was in care as a child and is now a second year disability nursing student at Edinburgh Napier after completing an HNC at Edinburgh College.
She said: “The HUB has helped me feel a lot more confident about who I am and where I came from. The manager, Lorraine, has supported me with everything from funding applications to accessing dental treatment.”
Mr Swinney’s visit followed last week’s announcement of the removal next autumn of the upper age limit of 26 for the annual £8,100-a-year Care Experienced Bursary, a move which will lead to hundreds more care experienced students becoming eligible, boosting their chances of going to college or university.
Mr Swinney said: “People with experience of care can often need extra support to start, or stay in, further or higher education.
“It was a pleasure to see this project at work and hear from care experienced students about the positive ways the HUB has helped them deal with life at college or university.
“We want to make it easier for people to move into further or higher education, no matter their age, and services like HUB for SUCCESS have a vital role in this.”
Professor Nolan, who is a member of the HUB advisory board, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Mr Swinney to the HUB today to give him a taste of the hard work which is going on across the sector to help people from care experienced backgrounds into further and higher education, and to support them during and beyond their period of study.”
HUB for SUCCESS manager Lorraine Moore, who is employed by Edinburgh Napier, said: “This is a group which faces unique issues, but so far we have been able to support people with a background in foster care, kinship care, residential care, Looked After at Home and asylum seekers.
“This support has included help with housing, finance, applying for places and funding and navigating complex systems and processes, as well as one to one support for those who find themselves struggling with their studies.”
Pictures show Andrea Nolan and John Swinney with Hannah Scott-Rose and Edinburgh Napier software engineering student Sean Mullen.