For most people it’s difficult to imagine setting off for university without the financial, practical and emotional support of a loving family. Many Foundation Scholars, in contrast, have spent periods in children’s homes, foster care, hostels or other temporary accommodation.
The Unite Foundation Scholarship Scheme enables students facing challenges like these – and who have overcome them to achieve a university place – to reach their full academic potential.
The Unite Foundation’s emphasis on providing a new home is a reflection of the ‘Home for Success’ business purpose of our major donor, Unite Students. For that reason, preference is given to students for whom ‘Home’ is a particularly significant concept.
The support we provide allows Scholars to work towards a positive future, achieve their potential and become financially independent. Scholars themselves tell us: this can be genuinely life-changing.
Why is this important?
Some young people have the odds stacked against them for the start – significantly affecting their life chances. In the UK about 33% of young people attend higher education by the age of 19. For care leavers it is only 6%.
Not all of our Scholars have been in care their entire lives. Some become estranged from their parents at a later stage. The reasons behind estrangements are often traumatic, and may include abuse. A common theme is parents rejecting children who, as young adults, have ‘come out’ as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual (LGBT).
For others, family life is challenging for different reasons. These reasons include a very low household income, or parents who themselves need to be cared for. A small percentage of our scholars have been separated from their home and family by conflict, and have successfully sought asylum in the UK.
All of these young people face considerable barriers to higher education which, without additional support, they may not overcome – despite their potential.
The Unite Foundation believes giving opportunity to young people with this background is a simple matter of fairness; especially in light of the benefits graduates enjoy:
• Graduates are on average wealthier, happier and healthier than non-graduates 1.
• Specifically, they earn over £100,000 more than non-graduates in a lifetime 2.
• Graduates are less likely to be unemployed than non-graduates 3.
Working with our university partners, we provide financial and practical support – including a safe, comfortable home – which will enable Scholars to take up their university place and achieve their best.
As well as changing the lives of individuals, we are helping to create a fairer and more equal society. Equality Trust research shows inequality is associated with lower life expectancy, much higher levels of mental health difficulties and higher infant mortality 4.
The Unite Foundation challenges inequality, bringing with it a positive impact on society as a whole.
1 Brown Review
3 OECD education statistics
4 THE EQUALITY TRUST 'The Cost of Inequality' 2014