Existing research has shown that care leavers are one of the most
disadvantaged groups in society and are at particular risk of experiencing negative long-term outcomes including unemployment, homelessness and mental health problems. This thesis makes a contribution to knowledge in this
area by focusing upon a group of care leavers about whom very little is currently known: care leavers in higher education. These are young people who despite the odds, have succeeded educationally and are overcoming their early disadvantage to make a successful transition from care into adulthood.
This thesis uses Bourdieu's theory on transformation and reproduction in
society and the concepts of capital, field and habitus to explore care leavers' experiences of higher education. It considers how the support available to care leavers from their local authorities and higher education institutions has
developed since Jackson and colleagues (2005) Going to University from Care study first highlighted deficits in the level of support provided to care leavers. This thesis also compares the experiences of care leavers with
students from other disadvantaged backgrounds to understand where care
leavers have specific support needs as a result of not being supported at
university by their birth parents.
Finally, this thesis considers the impact of the Buttle UK Quality Mark,
developed in response to the findings of Jackson and colleagues (2005) and awarded to universities demonstrating a commitment to supporting care leavers.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.