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All students require support from time to time. The welfare system in place at Cambridge includes a range of services to help support our care leavers.


Most undergraduates are guaranteed accommodation by their Cambridge College for at least three years and are usually expected to live in College-owned accommodation where possible.

Colleges usually provide shorter annual accommodation contracts (see our accommodation page for more information). If you're a Care Leaver (or Estranged Student) then you're entitled to have accommodation available to you all year round. Please let your College know as early as possible if you require this at any point during your course.


The University offers an extensive programme of financial support to ensure that students can meet the cost of their education, regardless of background. This includes the Cambridge Bursary Scheme, a long running initiative, which offers non-repayable bursaries for living costs to eligible students. If you are a Care Leaver (or Estranged Student) you may be eligible for a higher level of Cambridge Bursary. For information on eligibility and how to apply see the Cambridge Bursary Scheme website.

In addition to the Cambridge Bursary, there may be additional financial support available to you. Please contact the College you wish to apply to (or, if you are a current student, the College you are currently studying at) to find out more.

UK students are also eligible for financial support from the government to help with tuition and living costs. If you're leaving care, you're likely to receive the maximum grant. Arrangements can vary depending on where you are from - please refer to the relevant student finance authority for details and guidance:

Your local authority may provide you with additional after-care support if you're in education. We recommend that you contact your local authority to discuss the financial support available to you.

To make it easier to access all of the support available to you, please contact the College to which you’re considering applying and ensure they are aware of your circumstances, and that you indicate on your UCAS form that you are a care leaver when applying.


Whilst studying at Cambridge, you will be supported by your College. Students are assigned a Director of Studies, who oversees academic progress, and a College Tutor, who will provide pastoral support and can advise you on any personal or financial matters.

The University also offers:

Student life

There are other students at the University who are care experienced and/or estranged. The students’ union (Cambridge SU) runs a campaign called Class Act, which promotes the interests of current students who are traditionally underrepresented at the University.

There are also a number of ways to build a network of friends at Cambridge, both within your College, your course, and across the wider University. You may want to consider joining a society or becoming a student ambassador.

Sign up to a Realise mailing list

To be kept up-to-date with the latest Realise events and opportunities, sign up to one of our mailing lists:

Cambridge life as a care leaver/estranged student

Contact Us

Advice and support for care leavers and estranged students:

The Realise Team
T 07720 161797