Here you’ll find everything you need to know about making an application to a university or college higher education course as a student not supported by either of their parents (known as 'estranged').

We'll guide you through every step of the higher education application process. Find all the information you need to choose the right course for you and apply to university.

  1. Choose which path is the best fit for your aspirations.
  2. Choose the course that's right for you.
  3. Register in the UCAS Hub, then fill in your UCAS Undergraduate application.
  4. Once you've completed your application, paid for it, and sent it to us, track its progress.
  5. Apply for student finance.
  6. Get your exam results to see if you've got a uni place. Missed out or changed your mind? Use Clearing!
  7. Prepare to start your studies.
  8. Make the transition to higher education study easier with our study skills guides.

Support from application through to graduation

The UCAS application

In the ‘More about you’ section of the UCAS application, you can share information about your circumstances with the university or college – including whether you are estranged from your parents.

If your relationship with both your parents or carers has irreconcilably broken down – or is in the process of doing so –just select ‘yes’ in the question that asks if you are estranged from your parents.

You will not have to give any further details at this stage. This will allow the university or college to connect you to the right support for your needs quickly and easily, and ensure you have all the you need.

The university or college may get in touch with more information about how they can help you – and to tell you more about your options. Your information is treated sensitively and only shared with those responsible for arranging support and helping you with your application. Knowing about your circumstances may also help admissions staff consider your achievements through something called ‘contextual admissions’. Sharing information about your circumstance doesn’t reflect negatively on your application, nor will it affect your chances of receiving an offer.

If you’d like to know more about sharing information about your care experience in the application, check our FAQs page and read this blog.

Not sure how to share information about your circumstances? Read LEAPS' advice and watch a step-by-step video guide to sharing your circumstances with your unis and colleges in the application. 

Your reference

If you're happy for your reference to mention your circumstances, particularly where they have impacted your academic performance, let your teacher know. The university can take this into account when looking at your application. Also, see our section below on special consideration.

Personal statement

Some students wonder if they should mention their estrangement in their personal statement – this is a completely personal decision and you should only do so if you feel it is relevant to your application – for example, your experiences may have influenced your choice of course. .

We have worked with estranged students to create a guide to writing your personal statement.

You're in control
If you decide you don’t want support, you can choose not to accept it. But, if you change your mind, or your circumstances change, it’s ready for you.
Research your options
Not all universities and colleges offer the same type of support, so do your research before applying to make sure they offer what you need.
Unis and colleges are there to support you

Many universities and colleges are committed to specifically supporting students experiencing estrangement throughout their journey to higher education, often with a dedicated member of staff. This could include:

  • support with your application
  • help to find your feet in your first year
  • ongoing support right through to graduation and beyond

It’s a good idea to contact the universities and colleges you’re interested in before you apply, to find out what support they can offer you. Many will include the details on their website but if you can’t find what you need, contact their student support team for more information.

A handbook for estranged students

The EaCES Handbook is written by estranged and care experienced students, bringing together info and advice to help others – including their own experiences and practical tips.

Support during your exams at school or college

Special consideration

If your personal circumstances have adversely affected your exam performance, or caused you to be absent from an assessment, your school or college may apply to the examination board for Special Consideration. They will consider your circumstances and, if appropriate, apply a small adjustment (up to 5%) to your overall mark for that component.

Exam results

It may be reassuring to know that, under the Data Protection Act 2018, your relatives cannot access your exam results without your consent.