STUDENTS who are care leavers or are estranged from their families can now apply for one of six new scholarships which will allow them to live rent-free for three years at the University of Winchester

The six Unite Foundation Scholarships are open to students starting an undergraduate degree, excluding a foundation year, in September. 

Scholarship students will also receive a designated student adviser plus ongoing support from Unite Foundation. 

The scholarship aims to give the recipients a sense of security throughout their studies by removing the burden of looking for new accommodation each year and easing anxiety over rising living costs.

It's open to applicants aged 25 or under and covers year-round accommodation, including holidays, in a university hall of residence. 

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Between 2017 and 2023 Winchester has provided bursary support packages to 77 eligible care leaver students and 48 eligible estranged students. 

Dr Lesley Black, director of student support and success at the university, said: “We are delighted to be able to work with Unite Foundation to enhance our support for care-experienced and estranged students. 

“We know that having a safe, and secure, place to call home can positively impact upon a student's ability to engage with and succeed in their studies and this is especially important for some students from care-experienced or estranged backgrounds. We are committed to ensuring all students, regardless of their personal circumstances, have the best opportunity to achieve their academic potential." 

The Unite Foundation offers similar scholarships at 31 other UK universities and more than 700 students have received support in the decade since the scheme began. 

In 2022, independent research found that Unite Foundation scholarship students: progressed from the first to second year of study at the same rate as non-care leaver students; completed their degree closer to the rate of non-care leavers; and were within three percentage points of non-care leaver students in getting first or 2:1 class degrees. 

Fiona Ellison, director at Unite Foundation, said: “The University of Winchester is committed to improving the journey to, and through, university for care leavers and estranged students and we are very happy to welcome the University and six more students onto the Unite Foundation scholarship scheme. Together we can build on our pioneering research to make the case for a rent-free #HomeAtUniversity for all estranged and care experienced students.”