Policy for the Admission of Students Under the Age of 18


The University treats all its students, regardless of age on entry, as independent, mature individuals. However, under 18s living in England are considered by law to be children, which means the University has additional responsibilities towards students it admits who are under the age of 18 prior to the start of their course until the date at which they turn 18, even if this period is brief.[1]

Where this is the case, the University will require the applicant and their parent or guardian to sign the University’s Consent Form for Students Under the Age of 18 and return it to the University as confirmation that both parties have read and understood the nature of the obligations which the University owes to its students under the age of 18 and the extent of the services and facilities available to them.  Applicants who are under 18 should be aware that they are applying to study in an adult environment and there may be a small number of limitations for them at the University while they are under 18.   The policy covering the University’s obligations is outlined below. This policy should be read in conjunction with the Lancaster University Safeguarding Policy.

No applicant under the age of 18 will be eligible to be registered by the University until the Consent Form has been signed, returned and processed.

For international applicants needing a visa to study in the UK, the University must comply with regulations set by the UK Visas and Immigration service of the UK’s Home Office. As such, parents or guardians must ensure suitable care arrangements are in place for a child under the age of 18 who will study in the UK and be sponsored by the University under its Tier 4 license.  The consent form must be returned to the University prior to the issuing of a Certificate of Acceptance of Study (CAS).

Why is a UK guardian necessary?

Principles of Consent

The following guidance seeks to ensure that the respective responsibilities of the University and parent or guardian in relation to the applicant are clear. By signing the University Consent Form, it is deemed by the University that the student’s parent or guardian has given their consent to the following:

1. Parental responsibilities

The University is not able to take on the usual rights, responsibilities and authority which parents or guardians have in relation to a child, and it will not act in loco parentis (assuming parental responsibility) in relation to students who are under the age of 18.

Students who are under the age of 18 will be required to provide proof of a UK-based parent or guardian who is willing to be contacted in an emergency.  Students who do not have a suitable relative in the UK will be required to register with and pay for a professional guardianship service. Students will be required to demonstrate that their guardianship contract covers the entire period until they become 18. The Head of Colleges and Student Life, or nominee, will be available to advise and must approve guardianship arrangements prior to registration. 

The University will require students who are under the age of 18 to confirm their travel and accommodation arrangements directly with the Head of Colleges and Student Life or nominee prior to registration.

2. Contracts

As a student who is under the age of 18 cannot  enter into our legal contracts, the University requires a student’s parents/guardians to honour all obligations under any contracts that the student enters into with the University prior to his or her eighteenth birthday (e.g. payment of tuition and accommodation fees due to the University). 

3. Student Accommodation

Parents and guardians should recognise that residential accommodation offered by the University is generally intended for the use of adults.

4. Academic Course Content

As part of the admission process, the relevant departmental Admissions Tutor will be consulted to ensure that they and the Head of Department are satisfied that the content of any academic programme would be appropriate for students under the age of 18. This includes field trips and placements, where these activities would occur at a time when the student would be under 18 years old.

For some programmes it is a requirement of the relevant professional body that students are aged 18 or above when they enrol.

Parents and guardians should be aware that teaching staff will not routinely be DBS checked.

5. Field Trips

Courses may involve compulsory or optional field trips, excursions or other periods of study away from the University campus.  The University is not able to take any additional responsibility for a student who is under the age of 18 in relation to such activities. Unless indicated otherwise, by signing the consent form the parent or guardian gives consent for the student to take part in these activities on that basis.  Risk assessments are carried out before all field trips and provision is made for inclusion of under 18s where possible. Participation in some activities may be limited.

6. Sale of alcohol and other restricted goods and services

It is illegal for alcohol and other restricted goods or services to be sold to, or bought by, students who are under the age of 18.

7. Relationships with staff

Under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2003, it is a criminal offence for any person in a position of trust (which includes members of University staff) to engage in sexual activity with someone who is under 18 years old. 

8. Parental involvement

The University’s policy is that it deals with students and not with parents or guardians. This approach will apply equally to students who are under the age of 18. The University will therefore correspond with students, and not with parents or guardians, unless the University receives express written permission from the student or there is a medical, criminal or similar emergency.

9. Provision of IT services

The University offers email and unregulated internet services for all its students. These services are provided on an unsupervised basis. Students are expected to act in an adult and responsible manner when using these facilities and are required to abide by the University’s Computer User Agreement.

10. Data Protection

Although those under 18 are regarded as children under the law, they still have the right under the Data Protection Act for information about them not to be disclosed without their consent. This means that the University is not able to give information to parents regarding the student's progress, results or most other personal circumstance. However, if the student fails to pay any sums agreed on contract (see Contracts above) then it may be necessary to disclose this to any guarantor and possibly to a debt collection agency.

11. Notification

The relevant academic department, professional services and college personnel will be notified, prior to registration, of any student who will be under the age of 18 on entry to the University.  Teaching and other staff will not routinely be made aware of a student’s age.  A departmental risk assessment will be undertaken to ensure that appropriate safeguarding is in place for the individual student on their course.

[1] Once the student reaches the age of 18 this policy will no longer apply. At this point the student will become liable and responsible with regard to all matters.


Consent Form

 Consent Form for Students Under the Age of 18


Events for Under 18s

We will be running a range of events for our students who come to us before they are 18 so that they can meet others in a similar situation and develop a circle of friends. We will ensure that they get very practical advice, such as helping them to register with the University Medical Practice, as well as arranging some fun activities in non-alcohol based locations. There are plenty of coffee bars and restaurants both on campus and in the local area where our students can go. The nearby cities of Liverpool and Manchester also have national museums and art galleries, shopping centres and major event venues as well as hosting a number of internationally famous sports teams.

We will also be working with our Students’ Union to try to encourage our under 18s to become involved in our many clubs and student societies. With over 200 clubs and societies to choose from they can learn a new skill, such as ballroom dancing, or find out more about particular subject areas, e.g. The History Society.  More information can be found on the Lancaster University Students Union web pages and it is possible to join online if you are interested.

An events calendar will be made available before the beginning of term.

If you have any queries about UK guardianship of any of the other information in this area, please email Under18@lancaster.ac.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Why is a UK guardian necessary?

People under the age of 18 are classified as children under UK law. This means that their parents or legal guardians must make decisions on their behalf and hold legal responsibility for their protection and safety while their child is in the UK. The University must therefore be able to contact a UK-based guardian who has been nominated by parents/legal guardians who can act on their behalf and be the liaison between the University and the parents if an emergency situation arises or there are serious concerns for the health or wellbeing of the person under 18.

Lancaster University recommend Study Links as their preferred partner for Guardianship services. They provide a range of guardianship roles and can make arrangements for travel etc. where this is requested by the parents/legal guardians.

You can, of course, choose any adult to be a guardian for your son or daughter while they are at Lancaster. If you do choose a member of your family or a friend to take on this role, please ensure that:

  • They will be available for contact throughout the period that your child is under 18.
  • That they understand that they will be contacted in case of emergency situations where they will be expected to liaise directly with the parents/legal guardians and may be expected to attend the University or other location where the incident has occurred where this is necessary.
  • That they may need to arrange for alternative accommodation at short notice should the University be closed due to an emergency or in the unlikely event that the student is suspended from the University due to breaches in regulations etc.
  • That they would need to take responsibility for any travel activities that your child arranges while in the country.

There are other guardianship agencies available.  If you wish to find your own agency you should look on the AEGIS website which provides a list. Please ensure that the agency you agree to work with has experience of supervising University students as many agencies are aimed at children staying at boarding schools which is very different.