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Student Support and Wellbeing

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Estranged students

Here at UCL, we recognise that as an estranged student starting and studying at university can be particularly challenging without the support and approval of a family network – particularly with accommodation, holidays, and lack of financial support. UCL has been recognised by the charity Stand Alone for pledging its effort to develop the support for estranged students.


The term ‘estranged student’ describes someone who has no relationship with, or support from, their parent(s). The situation is permanent and there has been no contact with the parent(s) for at least a year.

To help us identify you as an estranged student, we rely on the independent* student status classified on your student finance application. But we ask for estranged students to make direct contact with us regardless. This is so we can get in touch with you early on and can inform you of all the support UCL has on offer, and also to make sure that everything is in place before you start at UCL. Information of a student’s estrangement will be kept confidential and will have no effect on your application to UCL.

The support on offer at UCL includes:

Personal support

Support from the university

Upon arrival at UCL your department will assign you to a Personal Tutor. Their main role is to advise you on academic matters, but you can also discuss non-academic matters with them in confidence. Normally, you will meet with your Personal Tutor once a term but you can also see them on an appointment basis if needed.

In addition to your Personal Tutor, there is a dedicated member of staff (Tracey Smith, Student Support and Wellbeing Coordinator) for estranged students, who will be your first point of contact for any support and wellbeing issues. She is able to put you in direct contact with relevant services across UCL. 

Tracey's contact details are:

UCL’s Transition Programme supports all new UCL students in adapting to university life, assisting new students in dealing with the social, academic and personal issues that are specific to UCL. As a first-year student, you’ll also be allocated a Transition Mentor, a second- or third-year student from your department of study. They will introduce themselves to you in your first week and mentor you during your first term, as you settle into university life in London.

Support from outside the university 

The organisation Stand Alone provide lots of specialised support for young people and adults estranged from their family, parent(s) or siblings, such as 'support groups' where you can share your thoughts and experiences with others in a similar position in a non-judgemental space.

Stand Alone also offer one-day therapeutic workshops, giving practical advice for dealing with challenges such as reconciliation, explaining your situation to others, and coping with the Christmas holidays.

If you are interested, we strongly encourage you register your contact details on their website.

Financial Support

Student loans

Through Student Finance England (SFE), you are eligible for government support in the form of a tuition fee loan and a maintenance loan. If you have not had contact with your parents for the last year, you should be assessed as an independent* student, which means you will receive the maximum amount of loan to support your studies.

If you have not been able to (or think you won’t be able to) be assessed as an independent* student by Student Finance, and expect that you will need some financial assistance, please contact our Student Funding Welfare team for advice. As an estranged student, there are a number of additional funding options that could be available to you. These include:

UCL Bursary

UCL will automatically assess your eligibility for this household income-assessed scheme and can award up to £2,500 per year. (If you are assessed as an independent* student then you will be awarded the highest amount).

Unite Scholarship

This scheme offers scholars free accommodation at UCL for 3 years (for 365 days of the year) in a designated Unite Students property.

Access Opportunity Scholarship

The scholarship is provided to support those who because of their immigration status are not able to secure loans from Student Finance England to support their higher education.

Financial Assistance Fund

This is discretionary financial assistance for current UCL students who find themselves in unexpected financial difficulty. If you would like to discuss your financial options, please contact the UCL Student Funding Welfare Team.

UCL Student Funding Welfare team's contact details:

Accommodation

UCL can help you find 365-day accommodation if you are a first-year undergraduate, and in subsequent years if needed. Just contact Tracey Smith, who will be able to advise you.

Tracey's contact details are: 

Estranged students may also be entitled to the Unite Scholarship above as an additional source of support for accommodation.

Stand Alone Pledge Logo

If you decide to stay in UCL accommodation and find yourself in need of financial assistance, there is an additional accommodation bursary you can apply to.

Further information

*What is an independent student?

NASMA provides a useful guide on how to demonstrate estrangement.

StandAlone is national charity which offers support to people of all ages who have become estranged from their family. Be sure to check out their useful guides on student finance. http://standalone.org.uk