Sunderland recognised for changing young lives

Released: Tuesday 9th October 2007 at 15:00

The University of Sunderland has been praised for its efforts in offering life-changing opportunities to vulnerable young people.

Sunderland has been awarded The Frank Buttle Trust Quality Mark in recognition of its commitment to young people who lack parental support.

The Frank Buttle Trust, the largest UK charity providing grant aid to individual children and young people in need, also recognised the university’s special consideration of the needs of young people who are estranged from their parents or looked after by adoptive parents, relatives or family friends.

On arrival at university students from a care background may find that they have limited, if any, financial support, no accommodation during vacations and no family support to fall back on.

The University of Sunderland addresses these concerns by offering a comprehensive support package. This includes additional support in applying to university, a 52 week accommodation contract and a named contact within the university for the entire duration of their studies.

Sue Reece, director of Student Recruitment and Business Partnerships at the university, says: “Less than 1 per cent of young people leaving care move on to higher education. It is important that universities work towards removing the barriers that prevent progression and provide appropriate support to ensure that more young people can benefit from the opportunities that university can offer.

“At Sunderland we have introduced discreet systems to help with admissions, registration and accommodation processes, alongside pastoral support and encouragement from committed and enthusiastic staff and student ambassadors.

“The process of applying to and succeeding within higher education is a challenge for any young person. It is significantly more difficult for someone who may not have the traditional family support structure. The University of Sunderland is working hard to ensure that these young people have the practical and emotional support to fulfil their potential.”

The Frank Buttle Trust has worked with Universities UK, the Standing Conference of Principals the Association of Colleges and the Association of Managers of Student Services in Higher Education, to develop a charter through which higher education providers can demonstrate their commitment to supporting care leavers.

For further information on help available at the University of Sunderland contact Wendy Jackson, Widening Participation Projects Manager, email wendy.jackson@sunderland.ac.uk or telephone 0191 515 3802.