Estranged students

Not everybody has a supportive family. 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:


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.

Personal support

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.

Find out more about Personal Tutors.

In addition to your Personal Tutor, Natalie Humphrey (Head of Student Support and Wellbeing - Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing) is Student Support and Wellbeing's named first point of contact for estranged students. Natalie is able to put you in direct contact with relevant support services at UCL. You can contact Natalie on +44 (0)20 7679 0100, by email or through the askUCL student enquiries system

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.

Find out more about the Transition Programme.

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.

Find out more about Stand Alone.

Financial support

The sources of support listed here, other than the Financial Assistance Fund, are for undergraduate students only.

Find out more about general student funding

Estanged Student Bursary

UCL offers a £1,000-per-year bursary for students who can demonstrate they meet the definition of estrangement from their family.

Successful bursary candidates can request an advance payment of £100 to help with their transition costs in first year.

Find out more about the Estranged Student Bursary.

Student loans for independent students 

Through Student Finance England 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.

Find out what an independent student is.

The National Association of Student Money Advisers provides a guide on how to demonstrate estrangement.

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. 

UCL Undergraduate Bursary

UCL provides a Undergraduate Bursary for students who meet the eligibility requirements. UCL will automatically assess your eligibility for this household income-assessed scheme and can award up to £2,500 per year for the duration for the programme at UCL.

Find out more about the UCL Undergraduate Bursary.

Unite Foundation Scholarship

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

Find out more about the Unite Foundation Scholarship.

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.

Find out more about the Access Opportunity Scholarship.

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.

Find out more about the Financial Assistance Fund.


UCL can help you find 365-day accommodation if you are a first-year undergraduate, and in subsequent years if needed. Simply contact Natalie Humphrey (designated contact at UCL for care leavers) on +44 (0)20 7679 0100, by email or through the askUCL student enquiries system

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.

After your first year, if you have no outstanding debt to the university and are planning to live with UCL students, then UCL can act as your guarantor if you need us to. Just email the Guarantor Scheme (rent.guarantee@ucl.ac.uk) to enquire and request an application form.

Care Experienced and Estranged Students’ Guide  

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.

issuu Widget Placeholder2187058/67458969