Office for Students

Enhancing university access and improving outcomes for students with complex needs with the OfS​

The OFS is the independent regulator for Higher Education in England. They have the responsibility of supporting institutions to deliver the commitments set out in their Access & Participation Plans.

They hold providers to account regarding these commitments, identify and promote effective practice in access and participation and ensure that underrepresented groups in higher education are prioritised by providers in terms of activity and support at relevant stages of the student lifecycle.

Best estimates suggest that around 7-12% of care leavers enter university, compared to around 40% of the wider population of school-leavers. Care leavers that do enter university are 38% more likely to withdraw before completing their course.


From the application process, to applying for student funding, to the financial and emotional challenges of starting a degree, there are many processes that institutions need to examine through a care leaver lens.

Our ultimate aim in partnering with the OFS is to increase the number of care leavers applying, entering and completing university degrees. This means collaborating regularly and consistently to discuss care leavers’ challenges, in the context of other cohorts of students, and how institutions can enhance tailored and meaningful support and provisions.

Through the Care Leaver Covenant, Spectra has inputted into OFS policy and guidance for higher education providers, and we have coordinated a working group comprised of the OFS, Student Loans Company and UCAS to consider guidance and processes for care leavers aiming to go to university and wanting to apply for student finance.

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