When I first applied to university, I was unaware of what is meant to be estranged. However, in the summer before arriving to university, I spoke with the admissions team. When I explained my situation and it became apparent that I had no parental support, they referred me to the Student Retention and Success team. From there, I learned what estrangement meant and how my chances to succeed and flourish during my time at university would significantly increase by identifying and disclosing my status as an estranged student.
Students who are ‘estranged’ have no communicative relationship with either of their living biological parents and often their wider family networks. The following signs can help you recognise estrangement in your parental/dependent relationships:
- Decreased or no communication.
- Physical distancing (moving out or avoiding close proximity).
- Reduction in emotional closeness and feelings of connection, caring and empathy.
- Absence of financial support.
Estranged students often have unstable family backgrounds, similar to care leavers, but have removed themselves without the intervention of the local authority system. The struggles of an estranged student and the dysfunctional nature of family life often go unrecognised by local authorities.
Besides this, estranged students are more likely to remove themselves from a damaging situation between the ages of 16-19 than earlier in childhood. Therefore, it is possible that students who are estranged or disowned from their family in this category may feel more open to judgement and stigma and may not have told anyone about their situation.
Students who are estranged or disowned from their family often feel unacknowledged, invisible, and sensitive to judgement and stigma around their family situation. Research shows that most estranged students do not feel comfortable accessing support from their university.
It can feel very uncertain and challenging coming to university without the support of a family network. However, if you are an estranged student, the university of Bath can offer you targeted support to help you succeed during your time at university.
The advantages of disclosing your estrangement to the University:
- The University of Bath offers estranged students a non-repayable bursary of £1,000 per academic year plus £1,000 to help with start-up costs and a further £1,000 on graduation.
- Access to advice and support from the Student Retention and Success Team throughout your time at university.
- Feeling a sense of community and belonging by connecting to other estranged students at Student Retention and Success socials.
- You can be signposted to free Wellbeing Services, including counselling, and potentially fast-tracked due to your estrangement status.
- Guaranteed University accommodation for every year of your course.
- Ability to claim maximum funding from Student Finance England.
My life began to improve the moment I decided to speak out about my estrangement. There are people at university that want to help you. If you are unsure about disclosing your estrangement, I would encourage you to be brave and go for it. You deserve to feel safe, protected and happy during your time at university, and there are services here to support you.