Who are estranged students?

Estranged students are young people studying without the support and approval of a family network. Young people in this position often have no contact at all with their family and have removed themselves from a dysfunctional situation.  

Research from University of Cambridge indicated that abuse, and particularly emotional abuse, is a key cause of family estrangement, alongside clashes of values and beliefs and mismatched expectations about family roles. More specifically, issues connected to honour based violence, forced marriage and family rejection of LGBTQI+ and transgender students are common. There are also a proportion of estranged students who have been disowned for pursuing education against the wishes of their family or extended family network.

The struggles of these young people often go unrecognised by statutory services, and our research with 584 students made in partnership with Student Finance England showed that there is a lack of any kind of social service intervention in roughly 60% of estranged student cases. Our research showed around 19% have experienced care as a looked after child, but do not formally meet their local authorities qualifying criteria as a statutory care leaver. Over 30% of these students had registered homeless or had considered registering homeless before their course began.

Students who are estranged or disowned from their family often feel unacknowledged, invisible and sensitive to judgement and stigma around their family situation. 28% of students in our study told us they did not feel comfortable accessing support within their institution. 

It is undoubted that students who are estranged from their family struggle with retention in Higher Education and suffer  over the summer period when most students can traditionally 'go home'.

Our research showed that 41% of students had considered withdrawing or suspending from their course due to money pressures, stress and mental health struggles, 14% actually had, which is a rate three times higher than the average student.

Read Chloe's Blog: Experiencing university as an estranged student: Going through university as an estranged student can be difficult if there is very little support. 



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