Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are set to benefit from free accommodation and a cost of living allowance thanks to a new partnership between Plymouth University and a student accommodation company.
The agreement between the University and the Unite Foundation, part of the group that provides housing to students in more than 20 cities across the UK, will establish a scholarship scheme aimed at widening access to higher education.
Five scholarships will be awarded per year, successful applicants receiving all of their accommodation at a Unite hall of residence free of charge, plus a cash award of £3,000 per academic year to help towards the cost of living.
Plymouth is the eighth university in the country to benefit from the scholarship programme following an assessment of their Care Leavers’ Service. Louise Baker, part of the care leaver team, said:
“We are delighted to be given this extra support which will allow us to open up doors for those who might otherwise have found it difficult to access higher education. Accommodation is one of the most important considerations for any student and a major factor in how they settle in to their new city and life.”
Priority for these scholarships will be given to students who have previously been in the care of a local authority, are irreconcilably estranged from their parents or who are living in residential provision for homeless adults. Jenny Shaw, Chief Executive of Unite, said:
“The barriers faced by our scholars are very real. For example, if you are a young person who has been in care you are six times less likely to make it to university. That’s clearly unfair.
Plymouth University is as committed to levelling the odds as we are, and it’s fantastic they have become a Unite Foundation partner university.”
The Care Leavers’ Service offers confidential support to students from application to graduation, providing financial and moral support, signposting and a friendly space for a chat.
Professor David Coslett, Interim Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, said:
“We welcome this partnership which will offer young people from care backgrounds and others in need, a secure accommodation offer for their period of university study. I applaud Unite's foresight and values in initiating this scheme.”