We understand that not everybody has a supportive home environment. If you are studying alone, we can help you.
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.
On this page:
- Personal support
- Financial support
- Care Experienced and Estranged Students' Guide
The term ‘estranged student’ describes someone who has no relationship with, or support from, either of their parents. The situation is permanent and there has been no contact with either parent for at least a year.
To help us identify you as an estranged student, we rely on the estranged student status classified on your undergraduate 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.
- Support from UCL
When you arrive 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 you're a research student, your supervisory team will fulfil much the same function as a Personal Tutor.
Apart from your Personal Tutor, if you are a UK-domiciled undergraduate mature student please contact Suzanne Hewings, Senior Student Success Officer (UCL's Key Contact for care experienced and estranged students). The Student Success Office serves as the primary contact for estranged students and can connect you with UCL's support services. You can find their contact details here.
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.
If you would like support for estrangement with regard to your mental health, you can book an appointment with the Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing team by raising an enquiry on askUCL.
Should you wish to discuss how this relates to your faith or belief background in a safe and inclusive environment, you can speak with our Chaplain and Interfaith Adviser by booking an appointment or emailing email@example.com.
- Support from outside UCL
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.
The sources of support listed here, other than the Financial Assistance Fund, are for undergraduate students only.
- Student Finance Estranged Status
If Student Finance categorise you as an 'independent student', they won't take your parents' income into account when working out how much maintenance loan you can get.
There are several ways you can be classed as an independent student by Student Finance - one of which is being permanently estranged from both your parents.
To prove your estranged status to Student Finance, you will need to provide confirmation of your circumstances from a professional person, outside your family. This could be a statement from your social worker a statement from your Jobcentre Plus office showing you get benefits because of your situation a statement from an advice worker, personal tutor, or teacher a statement from your doctor.
If you are a prospective or current UCL student and are struggling to evidence your estrangement to Student Finance
Please contact the Student Success Office by email.
They will put you in contact with the Student Funding Adviser, who will be able to advise further.
This person can provide the statement via a letter on headed paper complete with contact details, or an Estrangement Declaration form. The more statements you can provide, the stronger your case will be.
For more information on proving estrangement, see the charity Stand Alone's Student Support Portal.
- Estranged Student Bursary
UCL offers a £1,000 per-year bursary for students who can demonstrate they meet the definition of estrangement from their family. To be eligible for the bursary you must:
- hold UK fee status
- be aged under 25 and have been classified as an independent student on the grounds of estrangement by Student Finance;
- hold an offer of admission from UCL to study for a full time degree; or
- currently studying a full-time undergraduate degree at UCL.
Successful bursary candidates can request an advance payment of £100 to help with their transition costs in first year.
- UCL Undergraduate Bursary
UCL provides an Undergraduate Bursary for students whose household income is below £42,875 per year. If you have proved your estranged status to Student Finance, your household income will be set to £0 on their system. This means UCL will automatically assess you for the bursary and award up to £2,500 per year for the duration of your course at UCL.
- 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
Students in financial need may be able to access the Financial Assistance Fund. This is discretionary assistance for current UCL students who find themselves in unexpected financial difficulty.
UCL can help you find 365-day accommodation if you are a first-year undergraduate, and in subsequent years if needed. Simply contact Suzanne Hewings (designated contact at UCL for estranged students) by email.
Estranged students may also be entitled to the Unite Scholarship above as an additional source of support for accommodation.
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.
Information for UCL students and applicants who are care leavers or estranged from family.
Please note that this guide was correct at time of publishing in December 2018.