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From left: Deirdre Coyle, Social Care Commissioning Lead – Children and Families, HSCB; Tony Rodgers, Assistant Director Social Care and Children, HSCB; Margaret Kelly, Director, Fostering Network; Jillian Dalton, foster carer; Matthew Bingham, Ulster Student; and Dr Brian Murphy, Director, Access and Distributed Learning at Ulster

The University of Ulster has joined forces with The Fostering Network Northern Ireland and the Health and Social Care Board to launch the Tick the Box campaign.

This initiative aims to encourage applicants with backgrounds of fostering or social care to declare this by ticking the box on the UCAS application form. In this waystudents can help ensure they receive appropriate support from the university.

Dr Brian Murphy, Director of Access and Distributed Learning, explained: “At Ulster we are committed to ensuring that our Widening Access and Participation Plan reaches those most in need. For those who have left care or have previously spent time in care and are thinking of applying to the University, we may be able to provide financial support and access to accommodation as well as specialist pastoral care.

“We are however reliant on applicants themselves voluntarily declaring their background. By ticking the box applicants from a care background will allow us to help them from the start of the application process. That’s why I say to students: tick the box and help us to – discreetly – help you!”

Margaret Kelly, Director of the Fostering Network Northern Ireland, added: “The Fostering Network Northern Ireland has high aspirations for all our young people in care. That is why we are working with the University of Ulster and the Health and Social Board to launch this campaign to ensure all those involved in a looked-after child’s life to enable them to fulfil their aspirations and attain a higher education qualification.

“That means foster carers actively supporting young people to go to university, Health Trusts providing funding and support for the young person attending university and the universities themselves offering active support and encouragement.

“The University of Ulster has done just this.”