We commend Universities Scotland’s announcement that universities are changing their admission system for care-experienced young people. This new policy, which guarantees care-experienced young people a university place if they meet new minimum entry requirements, is a fantastic step towards widening access to Higher Education.
For more than 12 years, we’ve strived to support care-experienced young people through our mentoring and talent development programme. From one Glasgow school to now supporting more than 2000 young people across the country, our goal has always remained the same: making sure all young people are defined by their talents, not their circumstances.
In our recent article published in the Scottish Journal of Residential Care, we shared the deeply troubling statistic that for a decade just 4-6% of Scottish care-experienced young people progressed to university, compared to the nearly 40% of their peers. Education is one of the greatest predictors of adult success and this gap is unacceptable. We’ve partnered closely with universities to create a bridge from secondary school to Higher Education and have advocated for changing entry requirements
When we began working in Glasgow, we immediately recognised how brilliant our young people are. But instability at home doesn’t stop at the school door. It follows young people, impacting their education and threatening to hold them back. Through our mentoring programme, where volunteers work with a young person for just one hour a week, young people build their confidence and are given the tools and opportunities they need to engage with their education. Before mentoring, just 54% of care-experienced young people in Glasgow schools left school to college, university or a job. Now, 86% of mentored care-experienced young people do.
Every young person is enormously talented, but a difficult home life holds so many back from achieving their potential. We believe this change of university entrance requirements is an important and necessary step towards reversing these trends. Together, with Universities Scotland, our mentors and our Higher Education partners, we can help light the path for care-experienced young people towards universities and a bright futures.