COVID-19: Public Support To A Special Group Of University Students

empty university campus
Didsbury Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University photo by Rept0n1x is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
All universities closed down during the COVID-19 lockdown in England.

Young people who are wards of the state achieve instant adulthood when they reach the age of majority and “age out of care”.1 They are at particular risk for becoming homeless. They are also less likely to continue on to post secondary education than young people who grow up living with their parents.

Researchers have identified significant financial and social barriers that underlie these patterns, and government and universities have stepped in with programs to help.2

Some universities aim to replace supports that these students lose when they age out of care. For example, university staff check in regularly with “care experienced” students to make sure they have what they need to study, live and feel comfortable in the university setting.

What happened to these supports when the COVID-19 lockdown measures were implemented? A journalist decided to find out, through interviews with six care experienced university students in England.

University based support could no longer be offered face to face as campuses closed down. The article relates ways that university personnel and students continued financial and social support.

In addition, financial support from the government is officially available from a student’s local council. The interviews speak to weaknesses in this strategy, as some received assistance and others had not been able to connect with the council charged with providing the support.

From the interviews, it is clear that COVID-19 measures have added more complexity to the challenge of leaving care and completing post secondary studies. The article points up the need for a broader based investigation to find out how care experienced students are managing and the kinds of services and supports that would be most useful to continue in school and avoid experiencing homelessness. See in The Guardian: ‘All my safety nets went overnight’: how Covid-19 is isolating student care-leavers

Footnotes

  1. Here’s a US based post on this issue: Many Youth Who Leave Foster Care Become Homeless. What To Do?
  2. See this post, which discusses research into the US’s flagship program that helps students experiencing homelessness to continue their studies: Supports To Students Experiencing Homelessness: A Tale Of Uneven Access