What qualifies as Care Experienced?

The terms Care Experienced, Care Leaver, and Looked After refer to young people up to 26 years old who have experience of being in care at any time of their lives, or who are currently looked after. 

This includes any student who is under the care of the Local Authority, including (but not limited to) where the care is being provided in the student’s own home, in their parent(s) home, in the home of relatives, in a foster home, a care home, or a residential unit. It also includes students who are cared for under a kinship order. 


Adoption is a legal process which replaces a child’s birth parents with new adoptive parents.

Only those who have been looked after by a local authority and went on to be adopted can be considered for the bursary. 

Not eligible:  where a step-parent adopts the child of their partner, or the adopted child comes from a country outside of the United Kingdom (an inter-country adoption).

Foster Care

Fostering is a temporary arrangement - on either a short or long term basis - and many children in foster care will return to their birth family.

Local authorities can only place children with foster carers who have been approved by an agency registered with the Care Inspectorate.  Such agencies include local authorities, voluntary organisations and independent sector providers.

Kinship care

Kinship care is when a child is looked after by their extended family or close friends, if they cannot remain with their birth parents, and is subject to a kinship order.

Under the Guidance on Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009, kinship carers are defined as “a person who is related to the child (through blood, marriage or civil partnership) or a person with whom the child has a pre-existing relationship”.

Kinship care includes children who are looked after and are placed in a formal kinship care arrangement by the local authority.

Residential care

Residential care homes offer young people a safe place to live away from their families.

Most young people who live in a residential establishment will have been assessed as needing to be cared for away from home by the local authority.

Compulsory Supervision Order with no condition of residence (Looked after at home)

Where a child or young person is subject, through the Children’s Hearing system, to a Compulsory Supervision Order with no condition of residence, that child or young person continues to live at their normal residence (often the family home).  This is known as being looked after at home.

Where this happens, the hearing panel will have decided that the child’s welfare is best assured by living with their parents. Social workers and any other relevant partners then work closely together as well as with the child and family to achieve objectives for which the home supervision order was made.

Compulsory Supervision Order with a condition of residence (Looked after away from home)

Where a child (or young person) has either:

·         Been through the Children’s Hearings system and is subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order with a condition of residence.

·         Is subject to an order made or authorisation or warrant granted by virtue of Chapter 2, 3 or 4 of Part II of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.

·         Is being provided with accommodation under Section 25 (a voluntary agreement).


·         Is placed by a local authority which has made a permanence order under Section 80 of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007.

In these cases, the child is cared for away from their normal place of residence, by foster or kinship carers, prospective adopters, in residential care homes, residential schools or secure units.

At a glance

  • We allocate full-time Care Experienced students a non-means tested weekly bursary maintenance award of £202.50 
  • We ensure that Care Experienced students receive the optimum funding award, taking into account their wider circumstances. This means that we take into account your potential entitlement to social security benefits
  • If you are eligible to remain on benefits whilst you study, and the amount that you would receive through benefits (plus EMA of £30 per week or Universal Credit Bursary of £28 per week if applicable) is higher than £202.50 per week, then the College will allocate EMA or Universal Credit bursary rate instead of the new Care Experienced bursary rate


Because of the number of short full-time courses in FE, we have always based our bursary allocations on weekly, rather than annual rates.

Therefore, we have assumed 40 weeks of support as an average academic year, which is how we derived the weekly rate of £202.50 for FE. We know that this means that students on courses of 40+ weeks will get a bit more than the £8.1k and those on courses of lesser duration will receive less than £8.1k.

However, CE students should receive £202.50pw for the duration of the course (including short holidays), up to a maximum of 43 weeks. So students on:

  • a 10 week course would get £2,025pa
  • a 20 week course would get £4,050pa
  • a 38 week course would get £7,695pa
  • a 40 week course would get £8,100pa
  • a 43 week course would get £8,505pa

No, the College cannot insist. It is the student’s choice if they want to claim benefits. However, we think the numbers of CE students who are better off or equally well off on benefits will be minimal.

If the student has the choice, it may be worth reminding them that benefits may be a better option (e.g it will minimise disruption if the student has to transition back on to benefits at the end of the course, benefits may act as a gateway to other services, it will also mean the student isn’t using their limited entitlement 3 year of FE student support).

No there are no special rules for CE students – they should normally be progressing in level and will normally be allocated a maximum of 3 years of FE funding.

However, there is some discretion within the policy which the college can apply to any student, if they need to extend the duration or support or allow the student to go back to study at a lower level if they cannot use their higher level qualification.

The residency eligibility for student funding is set out in legislation, but the guaranteed bursary for CE students is not in legislation, so the residency criteria takes precedence.

If the student is a young unaccompanied person in the care of the local authority AND they meet the residency criteria for student support, then they can receive the CE Bursary. Examples of where the student can receive full support, including CE Bursary includes:

  • has full refugee status; or
  • meets the long residency rule; or
  • has some form of leave to remain as the result of a failed application for asylum, such as limited leave to remain, discretionary leave or humanitarian protection

If the student does not meet the residency criteria then they cannot receive the CE Bursary. So if the student is an asylum seeker then they should be supported by the college as an asylum seeker (e.g. eligible for travel, study costs and in-kind support only and fees waiver for PTFE courses and FT ESOL courses only). Social Work will have a duty of care to young unaccompanied asylum seekers and should be providing them with appropriate support whilst they study if they cannot access the CE Bursary.

Travel and study costs awards should not be means tested for Care Experienced students.

Although Care Experienced students may be categorised on college systems as self-supporting (for now, in the absence of a separate field for Care Experienced), they are not self-supporting in the usual sense. The Care Experienced Bursary is awarded in place of a parental contribution, in recognition of the -Scottish Government and Colleges’ status as corporate parents.

The guidance (para 109) currently says Care Experienced students should not be subject to a parental income assessment. We will extend this statement in the 2019 update to make it clear that colleges should not means test Care Experienced students as self-supporting (taking account of unearned income) for travel and study costs either.

Awards of Additional Support Needs funding are non-means tested for all students, including Care Experienced students. Care Experienced students should be assessed in the normal way for Childcare and Discretionary awards.

SFC has normally asked for confirmation from a social worker or Local Authority, as this has usually been quite easy for the student to obtain. However, we note that SAAS accept the following much broader list that they will accept as confirmation for care experience:

(Signed confirmation from) “a professional person who can confirm your circumstances, a professional person can be someone from the local authority by whom you were looked after, social worker, doctor, nurse, lawyer, solicitor, college/university student adviser, teacher, nursery teacher, notary public, counsellor, police officer, minister of religion or family mediation worker.”

We are trying to be consistent with SAAS so that if students transition from FE to HE they are receiving the same treatment. Therefore, we would also accept confirmation from the above SAAS list, if it is problematic for the student to obtain documentation from their social worker/LA. But as a general rule, colleges should ask in the first instance for confirmation from a social worker/LA.

For more information, email Scott at smillar@whocaresscotland.org