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Uni guaranteed for children in care who make the grade

Young people who have been in care will get into university if they meet minimum requirements.

Charlotte Armitage is hoping to benefit from the changes.
Charlotte Armitage is hoping to benefit from the changes. STV

Young people who have been in care will be guaranteed a place at university if they meet minimum entry requirements.

The initiative will begin this autumn and see, for the first time, two different sets of grades needed for courses listed on prospectuses.

It's hoped the announcement on Thursday by Universities Scotland will reduce barriers faced by those who have been in care.

One young woman who hoped to study at university told STV News that she "lost everything" when she went into the care system.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the move was an important step to making access to education "fair and equal".

She said: "All care-experienced young people who satisfy the minimum entry requirements for a particular course will be guaranteed a place.

"I think it's really important and vital to helping us achieve that vision of a country where everybody has a fair and equal chance."

"It's not going to solve all of the problems care experienced young people face. Many of those issues arise earlier in life, may young people have real disruption to their school education if they go through the care system."

Students who, for example, pick up an Aberdeen University prospectus and consider marine biology will see that the standard requirement is two As and two Bs.

However, from autumn the minimum requirement of three Bs will also be listed.

'I lost pretty much everything'

Charlotte Armitage was 15-years-old when she went into the care system.

She had been on course to achieve seven National 5s but in the end only managed to gain three, scuppering her dream of going to university.

Now 21, she said: "When I went into care I moved local authority and school and I lost pretty much everything.

"I lost my friends, I lost all of the coursework that I'd done and had to change subjects and I lost really important relationships with teachers that I'd formed and that had a massive impact on my education.

"I didn't take any time out of school but I was truanting and I was excluded twice. You could see what impact the disruption had on my school career."

Charlotte left school at 16 with a firm understanding that she wouldn't be able to go to university and she didn't have the grades to get into college either.

Unlike most young people who have been in care, Charlotte has been in employment since leaving school, including working for an MP and her current role as a public affairs officer for charity Who Cares? Scotland.

Despite Charlotte's wide range of work experience, she still can't get into college to get the grades she needs to go to university and is currently attending night classes.

She welcomed the announcement but still feels more can be done.

Charlotte said: "I do think it's a great first step and that many care experienced people will benefit from it. I question how guaranteed it actually is.

"If care experienced people can't get into colleges to get the minimum requirements, what hope have they got to get into university?

"What support is the university putting into place to make sure they're getting those qualifications?"

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