Guest blogger Produced by

This is a guest blog by Charlotte Crane, a BSc (Hons) Ecology and Wildlife Conservation graduate now studying a Master’s at BU.

Hi, my name is Charlotte and I am a care leaver studying at BU. A care leaver is someone over 18 who has spent time living in the care system away from their family home.

Being a care leaver comes with all kinds of difficulties that may make it harder to see Higher Education as an option. I was especially worried about my finances and how I was going to pay for everything on my own.

Luckily BU has lots of things in place for care leavers to make sure you feel supported and welcomed.

One of the ways BU supports care leavers is through their bursary. They currently pay £3,000 a year to every care leaver (UK nationals or have those with ‘settled status’) that comes to Bournemouth University to study an undergraduate degree…. That’s £9,000 across the 3-year course that you don’t ever have to pay back!!

You automatically qualify for the care leavers bursary due to your student finance application so there are no extra forms to worry about. A designated care leaver outreach staff member emails you before you arrive to talk you through the whole process and answer any questions you may have. Then, once you get to BU you will be given a cashless card. This card works just like a debit card and can be used anywhere you would normally use a bank card… shops, restaurants, buses, online – the possibilities are endless! The only thing you can’t do is take cash directly out of an ATM or via cashback.

The bursary card for care leavers looks exactly the same as all the other bursary cards so it does not single you out or alert anyone that you are a care leaver giving you discretion and privacy. This made me feel so much more comfortable using it in public because I didn’t want everyone knowing about my personal life but so many people had the cards for different reasons that no one really asked questions about it.

It gets paid monthly and if you don’t use it all one month it rolls over to the next month so you can save up for something big and special if you wanted to. This gave me the opportunity to save up to go on a field trip to Costa Rica as part of my course. Without the BU Care Leavers Bursary, I never would have had enough money to go and would have missed out on amazing memories and invaluable skills and work experience (and yes, the card even works abroad too!).

The Care Leavers Bursary has made such a positive impact on my university experience. From ensuring I had enough money to eat each month to funding the research field trip of a lifetime. This bursary took my financial worries away from me and allowed me to fully immerse in ‘university experience’.

I hope this sheds a little more light on the Care Leavers Bursary so you can worry less too!

Thanks for reading.

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