Daniel Wilkinson hopes to land a place at Bradford University – despite being in care since the age of six.

His mind was made-up yesterday during a pioneering taster day at the institution which targeted young people in the district close to leaving the care system.

The university and Bradford Council’s Children’s Services department joined forces to encourage teenagers in care to aim high. Of 400 young people aged 18 to 21 in Bradford close to leaving or having recently left the care system, just 16 are on higher education courses.

Co-organiser Yasmin Hanif, widening participation officer at the university, said she hoped the event, which included a CSI-style forensic science workshop and campus tour, would raise the aspirations of its young participants.

She said: “We want to show them that university is something realistic which they can aspire to and be a part of. Nationally, care leavers are one of the groups with the lowest numbers in universities. The day was about showing that learning is fun and raising awareness among young people in the care service.’’ Daniel, 18, of Wibsey, is now in supported care – the final step before leaving the care system altogether.

He said: “I’m doing a B-Tec in art and design at Calderdale College.

“I then want to come to university in Bradford because it’s near my home. Being in care is no harder than being anywhere else if you have the right people around you.”

Hassan Naeem, 16, a pupil at Rhodesway School in Allerton, has been in Bradford’s care system for around a year. He said: “It’s more difficult to study. There are drugs and distractions. But I want to concentrate on myself. Helping young people in care is a great idea because they have to put in extra effort.”

The university has started several initiatives to encourage care leavers to study at the institution. They include a £1,000-a-year bursary.