Unite Foundation Scholarship Scheme 2020 / 21

If you are a looked after child, a care leaver or if you’re estranged from your family, you may be eligible to apply for the Unite Foundation Scholarship.

The Unite Foundation Scholarship Scheme provides a free student bedroom in a purpose built Unite Students building for three years of undergraduate study to students aged 25 or under who are estranged from family or care leavers. In 2020/21 there are 80 Unite Foundation Scholarships available nationally.


What is the Unite Foundation?

The Unite Foundation is a charitable trust, registered as a charity in England, Wales and Scotland. It is governed by a Board of Trustees and managed by a small central team.

The Unite Foundation was founded in 2012 by the student accommodation provider Unite Students. The company pledged to give a substantial donation each year to help young people go to university who might not otherwise have the chance. The mission of the Unite Foundation is to support young people ‘for whom a secure home is particularly meaningful; students who have previously been in care or are estranged from their parents’.


What is the Unite Foundation Scholarship Scheme?

The scholarship gives care leaver/experienced and estranged students a free student bedroom in a purpose built Unite Students building for a maximum of 3 years of your university life. No rent, no bills; 365 days a year for up to 3 years of eligible study.

These Scholarships are designed for students who are care leavers or are estranged from their parents.

Am I eligible to apply?

To be eligible to apply for a Unite Foundation Scholarship you should be either

  •  a care leaver
    • Care leaver is a legal status that can begin at age 16 and last until 25 if in Higher Education. There are several different categories of care leaver but all legal definitions are eligible for the Scholarship Scheme.
    • Ask your Local Authority for a letter on headed paper confirming that you are a statutory care leaver; ideally stating which category you fall into, i.e. Relevant, Former Relevant, Eligible or Qualifying. Ask them to include in this letter the support they will provide for you whilst you are at university.
  • care experienced (Scotland)
    • The Scottish authorities define a care experienced student as being aged 16 years or over but under 26 and having, at any time in their lives, been looked after by a Local Authority. Ask your local authority for a letter on headed paper confirming that you are care experienced or the letter from SAAS confirming your Care Experienced Bursary.


  • estranged from your family
    • Student Finance England (SFE, SFI, SFW) or Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) considers you an independent student on the basis of being estranged from your parents if you are permanently not in contact with your parents. For guidance on how to prove estrangement to Student Finance England, visit www.sfengland.slc.co.uk/estrangement.aspx Ask your student finance/award office for a letter on headed paper stating that you have been assessed as an independent student on the basis of estrangement.

For more information and examples of evidence please see the guidance document below.


Additional eligibility criteria

In addition to care leaver or estranged status you must also:

  • be aged 25 or under on 1st September 2020
  • studying at, or holding a firm choice offer from Sheffield Hallam University starting September 2020
  • be undertaking your first and only course of undergraduate study i.e. you have not been to this or another university previously
  • be a UK home fee status student, i.e. not an international student
  • be in receipt of, or applying for, student finance or NHS funding reflecting care leaver/care experienced/estranged student status


Years of study that are excluded from support are:

  • foundation year (including Year 0 of an extended degree programme)
  • years involving study credits toward a Masters whether that be post graduate or integrated with a Bachelors.
  • resit years
  • repeat years arising as a result of changing courses
  • years in which you are aged 26 or older at 1 September



What accommodation is offered as part of the Scholarship Scheme?

student accomm - living room

The accommodation offered will be in a Unite Students building located close to your university. Scholars will be offered a single ensuite bedroom in a shared flat with a communal kitchen; the flat will be shared with a mixture of other students. Your accommodation will be available all year round – including through the holiday periods – for as long as you are still eligible for the Scholarship. Occasionally you might need to move flats temporarily to allow for maintenance and redecorating etc.



What conditions are attached to a Scholarship?


  • Each year that you take the benefit of free accommodation you must sign the normal rental agreement for your room and abide by the standard terms and conditions of the tenancy.  You will not be required to pay rent, a deposit or supply a guarantor.
  • You must make data sharing choices once you join the scholarship and ensure that the Foundation team and your university always have up to date mobile and email contact details for you.
  • You must respond to deadlines that you’ll be given for annual room bookings.
  • Once you become a Scholar you can choose annually if you would like to take up the free accommodation offer. Your award entitles you to three years free accommodation. These do not need to be consecutive but you do need to remain eligible each year.
  • If you get a job in a different city during the holidays you can apply for free housing in a Unite Students property – subject to availability – in your employer location.


Who can I contact if I have questions about the Scholarship?


You should stay in regular touch with your university named contact; – they are a brilliant source of information and support for all your academic, social and financial questions whilst at university. The Foundation University partners can also manage queries about your scholarship.  At Sheffield Hallam you have the following key contacts

  • Student Wellbeing Inclusive Support (inclusivesupport@shu.ac.uk) – for advice on applying to the Unite Foundation Scholarship, as well as financial and other support available to you at University
  • Accommodation Services (accommodation@shu.ac.uk) – for questions about applying for your accommodation at Sheffield Hallam University


Applying for Accommodation - Important Information

If you intend to apply for a Unite Foundation Scholarship we advise you to select Unite accommodation when signing your initial contract. Make sure that you write “applying to the Unite Scholarship” in the notes field of your accommodation application. This is so that, if you are a successful applicant, you are able to take up the free Unite accommodation offer. If you sign a contract with an alternative accommodation provider, you will be liable to meet the terms of that contract.

If you have already applied to live in our Halls of Residence we would recommend that you contact Accommodation Services and advise them that you are applying for the Unite Foundation Scholarship (accommodation@shu.ac.uk)

As a registered charity The Unite Foundation is continuously seeking to improve the way it works so as to have a better impact on care leaver and estranged young students. Each year they will conduct a survey that collects numeric and quality data anonymously. You must fill this in and should be completely honest so that the feedback can lead to improvements.

What if I decide to leave my course?

Should you leave your course for any reason you will be asked to leave your accommodation. However, Sheffield Hallam University and the Unite Foundation will be flexible and give you reasonable time to find alternative accommodation before you need to move out.


How do I apply for the Unite Foundation Scholarship?

The guidance notes for the Unite Foundation Scholarship 2020/21 can be found below. Please read these thoroughly and carefully.

If, after reading the above information and the guidance notes, you would like to apply, please contact us at inclusivesupport@shu.ac.uk for an application form.

The closing date for applications is Thursday 4th June 2020. You will be notified of the outcome of your application in July 2020.