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Transition & Work

Can you go to university after leaving care?

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A recently released report about the prospects for young care leavers who may aspire to go to university finds that a big change in attitudes is needed if more young people in this category are going to study at the tertiary level.

The report Out of care, into university: Raising higher education access and achievement of care leavers is the result of work by researchers at La Trobe University, and was funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education at Curtin University. It comes with a long string of recommendations for improving the lot of young people leaving care who want to study, but the three key messages are:

  • The need for collection of consistent data on higher education access and outcomes (currently the issue of care leavers accessing university is ‘out of sight, out of mind’).
  • The need for reform of policy and greater recognition of the problems faced by care leavers.
  • The need for cultural change: the researchers found that this group is ‘underestimated and overlooked by others’, and the problems are worse for Indigenous care leavers.

The researchers hope that by highlighting the problems for care leavers who want to study they will be creating the right environment in which to develop a national agenda to improve the situation for them.

This group is not a small one. Around 40,000 young people require out-of-home care in Australia and this figure has risen each year over the past decade. So there are large numbers of young people leaving care who could potentially benefit from tertiary education, but who are being denied this opportunity as very few care leavers currently go on to study at university.

This 59-page report is important if you work with young people in transition, or in any type of care arrangement. Access the report here.

Source:Youth Coalition of the ACT website, viewed 16 June 2023.