Universities and colleges welcome students from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience. If you choose to disclose that you are a student with an imprisoned parent it will not negatively impact your application – it gives context to your circumstances.

Who is a student with an imprisoned parent?

If your parent or a primary guardian is currently imprisoned, or has been imprisoned during your lifetime, you are a student with an imprisoned parent. 

Why disclose you are a student with an imprisoned parent?

Universities and colleges understand that students who have experienced parental imprisonment may have their education disrupted due to a variety of circumstances:

  • You might have taken time off school to visit your parent in prison.
  • You may have had to move when your parent was imprisoned, and/or change school.
  • Your primary caregiver might have changed.
  • You may have felt stigmatised or isolated at school.
  • Your parent’s imprisonment might have negatively impacted your mental health. 

Universities and colleges are keen to know about your circumstances because it allows them to consider your academic achievements in context. Disclosing that you are a student of an imprisoned parent is completely up to you, if you do not wish to disclose you do not have to. Disclosing how it has impacted you and your education can help universities and colleges understand your full context, which can be useful when they make admissions decisions. 

What support is available?

You may have a support system at home and moving away to university (if you choose to) might seem daunting, but universities and colleges do have support systems in place that you can utilise. 

Support at uni

Many unis have student counselling services, so research what's available at the ones you're interested in.

Once your place is confirmed, it's a good idea to contact them before you start, so you have support in place for when you arrive. 

Let your personal tutor know about your situation

Most unis assign you a 'personal tutor' to support you throughout your academic journey (they might call this person something different, but their roles will be very similar).

You may want to let your personal tutor know your circumstances, especially if your parent is currently imprisoned, so they can be aware of key dates, like visiting times or when they might be released. Letting them know what you are going through means they can help with deadlines, and if you have times when you need more support. 

More support

The National Information Centre of Children of Offenders (NICCO’s) website has a number of resources you might find useful and a map of services across England and Wales.

Childline is available to anyone under 19 and has a page dedicated to children with parent/s in prison.

Mental health support

If you require mental health support, please contact your GP

UCAS' mental health and wellbeing hub: We have lots of advice and resources to help you through every stage of your life, including articles, links, and helpline numbers.    

These organisations also offer mental health support: 

The Mix: Online information and helpline to support under-25s with anything that’s troubling them.

Samaritans: Whatever you're going through, you can contact the Samaritans for support. This is a listening service and does not offer advice or intervention. Open 24/7.

Childline: If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem, big or small. Open 24/7.