Finance

 

Obtaining financial support is one of the most challenging aspects of being an estranged student. In order to attain independent status from Student Finance England or Wales, students are expected to provide tangible evidence proving they have experienced a lack of contact with their biological parents, usually for a year.

There is a lot of stigma around family estrangement and many do not speak about their situation to others for fear of rejection or a sense of shame. This means that when it comes to applying to Student Finance England or Wales, many do not have evidence of a lack of contact, or a person of good standing to confirm their situation.

Our research shows this can leave students without financial support well into their first term at university. This in itself comes with its own struggles – many beneficiaries have reported turning to food banks to get basic sustenance, while others talk about the isolation financial insecurity can bring, and how this affects their social relationships at uni. Some beneficiaries have reported that the lack of financial aid means they are forced to work full time to make ends meet, which then negatively affects their ability to learn and their overall attendance.

When discussing financial hardship, one female student said "I must work alongside my studies in order to survive, and this has caused me to have less attention on my studies, and thus have had to resit my first year." Another student said, "Rent & food is not covered so have two jobs as well, which affects my studies."

Estranged students are three times more likely to leave university before the end of their degree programme than the average student. Finance, or lack of finance, is a key driver in making this decision.

The Stand Alone Pledge recognises the importance of securing adequate funding for students who lack family support. We aim to help universities, and other HE organisations, to understand just how important financial support is to student success.

There are many ways to make university an affordable option for disadvantaged students, and the Pledge aims to help insitutions to explore this.

A university that excels in providing support for its estranged student population is De Montfort University. DMU provides estranged students with a bursary to the value of £1000 per academic year, which can be used to pay rent, buy necessary equipment and other essentials throughout each year. The institution is also the providers of the Unite Foundation Scholarship, which offers a package of free accommodation, including the summer months, for students with no parental contact. DMU says "young people who have a permanent lack of contact with their parents may have additional considerations when applying and studying in higher education. These should not, however, be seen as barriers to entering or progressing at university."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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