Last week we announced that the University of Reading had proudly joined the StandAlone Project, supporting students that are estranged – young people studying without the support and approval of their parents.
Stand Alone is a charity dedicated to supporting people estranged from their family or key family member.
‘Our primary objective is to break down the stigma around estrangement and support estranged people in their daily lives.’ – standalone.org.uk
We recognise the importance of supporting estranged students throughout their time at university. Often support is a key part of coming to university, we want to provide everyone with equal opportunities to succeed in higher education – which is why The University of Reading has made the StandAlone pledge.
What is the standalone pledge?
The pledge is a public commitment to supporting students studying without the support or approval of a family network. The pledge helps institutions develop support and enable them to stay resilient and succeed in higher education.
The University of Reading joined the pledge by writing to StandAlone outlining what we, as an organisation, have and will do in the future to build awareness, support, and engage with students.
‘The University recognises the difficulties in identifying estranged students and aims to develop internal awareness of this student group and their specific needs. This includes clearer self-disclosure and referral pathways via more visible guidance for students, academic tutors, and support staff.’
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.’
‘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.’ – standalone.org.uk
Blogger Cloe writes about her experiences at university as an estranged student.
What is the University of Reading doing to help?
The University of Reading is committed to providing fair access, information, advice, guidance, and support to estranged students, but what does this mean?
With StandAlone, we are trying to make it easier for estranged students to come forward and get support with Finance, Accommodation, Outreach and Mental health:
Our full support package can be found on our Essentials webpages and includes:
- Estranged students receive a Care Experienced and Estrangement Bursary of £1000 per academic year for each year of study.
- Estranged students are also prioritised for hardship funds and some specific bursaries, e.g. the Digital Support Fund in response to the Covid pandemic.
- We offer 365-day access to accommodation, including over holiday periods.
- Estranged students who become homeless are prioritised for emergency accommodation.
Mental health and wellbeing
- We have a dedicated member of staff within our Welfare team who provides expert guidance and support and is the first point of contact for estranged students within the University.
- Peer support groups are set up at the start of term to enable students to meet others in a similar position.
- The Counselling and Wellbeing Service offers a range of support, including one-to-one support either face-to-face, on the phone or over Skype, groups, workshops, online guidance, and onward referrals to other support services.
Outreach and transition
- Care experienced and estranged students have the highest priority when applying to the Reading Scholars’ Programme for Year 12 students.
- We are starting to roll out one-to-one support sessions for estranged and care experienced students who are known to our Widening Participation team.
We will continue to develop our support, making it easier for students to come forward, and more awareness around being an estranged student.
Read more about estranged students:
BBC Estranged students: ‘Homeless’ in the holidays
BBC Estranged students: ‘The system assumes your parents will help.’
To read more, seek support or get in contact with us, please visit our dedicated Essentials page or contact our dedicated member of staff for estranged students: firstname.lastname@example.org.