Making informed HE choices without support from your family

Monday 15 April 2024, Widening access and participation

by Susan Darlington, Partnership Assistant at Go Higher West Yorkshire

Making informed HE choices without support from your family

Susan Darlington, Partnership Assistant at Go Higher West Yorkshire

Making decisions about the next steps on your higher education (HE) journey can be an exciting time, filled with the possibility of studying a new subject, moving to a new city, and making new friends.

But if you have no contact with your close family members – you're estranged due to an irreconcilable breakdown in your relationship with them - and are living independently, it can be a time of great uncertainty. Without the financial, emotional and practical support of a family network it can be challenging to negotiate travelling to open days, securing accommodation, and applying for student finance. Reaching out for help can also feel daunting when faced with the stigma of estrangement.

Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) understands these can be significant challenges to face on your own, which is why we produced the country's very first collaborative Stand Alone Pledge.

The e-resource aims to be a ‘one-stop-shop' to make it easier for you to find out what support is available across our 13 West Yorkshire member institutions in terms of getting into HE, succeeding in HE, and progressing into employment or further study after HE.

The user-friendly and informative resource builds on the work initiated by Stand Alone, a national estrangement charity that ceased operation in April 2024. It encouraged universities to make a Pledge to develop better support for individuals affected by estrangement, helping students to achieve and to feel part of their university.

Our resource collates our members’ offers to estranged students in a simple table. This means you don't have to trawl between different web pages to find and compare information about whether, for example, the providers have named contacts who can help you attend open days and answer finance questions, whether they offer 365-day accommodation, or offer support with graduation costs.

Developed with support from Stand Alone and updated annually in response to user feedback, it also includes quotes from estranged young people about their own educational experiences, and a list of top tips to help you on your HE journey. Because we know how complex it can be to navigate, it also features a comprehensive glossary that explains terms used in the resource and throughout HE.

The resource is complemented by additional information on our website. This includes the email addresses of the named contacts at our members and details about what financial packages are available. This is designed to make it even easier, quicker, and less stressful for you to make informed choices about your education journey. The information is updated on a rolling basis to make sure it remains up-to-date and responsive to changing needs.

We encourage you to read our resource with a friend or trusted adult, such as a teacher or counsellor, and talk through which options are best for you.

About GHWY

GHWY is a partnership of 13 HE providers in West Yorkshire that represent a huge range of higher education options, from universities and HE-in-FE provision, to a specialist training provider, and conservatoire.

We strive to help improve the life chances of students and learners, with a focus on under-represented groups, helping them better understand the benefits of, and options for HE, the available support, and all the various pathways to becoming a HE student.

Find out more about us here and access our resources.