On the day: AccessHE’s Life After University event for care-experienced and estranged students

“What do people do straight after uni? Do most people find a job within 6 months of graduating?” – Student attendee

On Tuesday 27 February, 40 students, staff members from universities, FE and local authorities, and representatives from supporting organisations, joined the AccessHE Life After University event. Targeted at care-experienced and estranged students currently studying in higher education, the day aimed to offer information and help develop some of the key skills required for students to make a successful transition to independent living after graduating. The venue was Fyvie Hall – a beautiful space kindly provided by the University of Westminster at their Regent Street Campus.

“We want to talk to the students here and find out more about what they’re interested in and how we can help support them at our university.” – HEI staff attendee

The day began with a quick icebreaker session from Neil Parsons – Student Adviser and Named Contact for Care Leavers at London Metropolitan Univeristy – which encouraged attendees to consider and discuss what was really important in their lives. Afterwards, Matthew Blood – Head of Islington Virtual School – spoke about his own journey through education and offered some advice on developing successful pathways beyond care and university. In the final session before lunch, Peter Eldrid – Deputy Head of Counselling at Brunel University London – offered some answers to the very important question: how do you look after yourself?

During lunch, attendees were able to speak to representatives from a range of fantastic organisations including BecomeDrive Forward FoundationSmart WorksWorking Chance and Stand Alone to understand about the opportunities they can provide before and after graduation.

“I am hoping to learn something new today. I am hoping to find out more about accommodation and how students find accommodation after university.” – Student attendee

In the afternoon, we were delighted to host an amazing line up to join a panel Q+A around employment and further study opportunities. Attendees heard some fantastic insights, great pieces of advice and personal experiences from John Dweck (Pod Talent Recruitment) and Shenika Hylton (Squire Patton Boggs LLP) who are both from Drive Forward Foundation partner employers, Keli Elmer (an interview coach for Smart Works), Simon Rogg (Postgraduate Recruitment Officer at St Mary’s University) and Kingston University postgraduate Delina Abraham. The final session of the day saw two volunteers from Barclays Life Skills answer questions around finding and renting private accommodation.

We are incredibly greatful to all of our fantastic speakers and supporting organisations, as well as all of the attendees, for making the event a success. Life After University was put together by the AccessHE Care Experienced and Estranged Students forum, and we are particularly grateful to the event working group for their efforts. Look out for another event taking place in 2019!

If you have any questions about the event or the forum’s work, please contact Sam Turner, London Programmes Coordinator, at sam.turner@londonhigher.ac.uk.