Access and Widening Participation


Estranged students

UCL recognises that when applying to and entering higher education, young people who have lost contact with or don't have the support from their family network may encounter challenges.

Below we've described how UCL's Access and Widening Participation team can support estranged students in their journey to university. 

What does 'estrangement' mean? How do I know if I'm estranged?

No longer having a relationship with your parents i.e. not seeing or communicating with them, is referred to as estrangement. 

There are many reasons why someone becomes estranged, which could include (but are not limited to): 

  • Being homeless, or at risk of homelessness
  • Being a victim of physical or emotional abuse by family members
  • Having experienced or been threatened with 'honour'-based violence or forced marriage 
  • Being disowned or rejected because of life choices which parents disagree with

Whether it's you or your family who has decided to cut off from each other, and you feel the relationship is irreconcilable (or would harm your own safety to reconcile), then we would consider you an estranged student. 

If you do not have contact with your biological family, but are supported by your local authority and classed as a looked after child or care leaver, then please visit our dedicated support webpage. 

Opportunities at UCL for estranged students in school or college

Estranged students who attend a non-selective state school are welcome to apply for any of our widening participation activities, as long as you possess the academic potential to meet UCL's minimum entry criteria. To make sure we can identify you and give your application additional consideration, please make sure to tick the box confirming that you are an 'estranged student.' 

If you are uncertain about whether you meet the estranged student criteria or grade requirements, please contact Jalal Pour and Michele Sahiri wp.pre16@ucl.ac.uk who can discuss your situation with you. 

We also have the Student Shadowing Scheme. This is an opportunity for Year 12 students to come into UCL and explore what life is really like as a student: you will have the opportunity to accompany a current undergraduate student to a lecture, go on a tour of campus, and receive one-to-one advice from staff in Student Funding, and Student Support and Wellbeing. 

Where can I look for further support?

Stand Alone is the best place to start. It is a charity which supports people of all ages who are estranged from their family and in need of guidance on any issue, including applying for student finance as an independent student. They also have a number of useful guides available on their website, which we'd strongly encourage you to look at. 

If you would like to learn how UCL can support you with funding, accommodation and your wellbeing, please visit our estranged students support webpage which gives details on everything you need to know.