What are student support services?
Universities and colleges typically have a team which offers advice and support to all students who want it. These teams may have different names depending on the university or college but they are often referred to as ‘student support services’. Students from all backgrounds can find help with a range of issues such as:
- finding accommodation
- getting help with improving academic and study skills
- discovering which bursaries and hardship funds are available
- help with budgeting and managing finances
- accessing mental health and wellbeing services
- access to support for disabilities and learning differences
- general welfare advice
You can find information about student services, including contact details, on the university or college website. Don’t hesitate to contact them directly if you have any questions – they are used to hearing from prospective students who would like more information.
Some student support teams have a central contact for estranged students who will be able to support you right from your application through to graduation. You can find the estranged student contact details for many universities and colleges on the Stand Alone website. The students’ union (or other student body) on your campus may also be able to offer information and support.
If you let the university or college know that you are estranged from your parents by ticking the box on the UCAS application, they may get in touch to tell you more about the support they can offer and to find out more about what you need. This might include finance (e.g. bursaries), accommodation, and other relevant services. Everything you discuss is confidential, and you won’t be asked to share any details you don’t want to.
Financial support and budgeting advice
Managing money while at university can be a challenge but there’s lots of support and guidance to help you with budgeting and sourcing additional income, to help with the day-to-day costs of being a student.
If you need practical advice about managing your finances, contact the student support team at your university or college first. They provide impartial advice and guidance about bursaries, scholarships, and emergency hardship funds – based on your specific needs. You may also be able to access support from the students’ union.
All applicants can apply for loans to cover tuition fees where applicable (paid directly to the university), and maintenance costs (paid directly into your bank account).
Do I need to provide evidence?
You will not need evidence to speak to student support services or to access most of the support they offer.
In some cases, you may need to provide evidence to show you are eligible for certain bursaries and scholarships, but you will be given help to find what you need.
If you are aged under 25 when your course begins, you will need to provide evidence of your estrangement when applying for student finance – read more about this on our student finance page.
Mentoring and buddy networks
Meeting people with Stand Alone
Stand Alone is a charity that works to support estranged people, and offers support groups and therapeutic workshops for people in a similar situation.
The Stand Alone Pledge
Many universities and colleges have pledged their commitment to supporting students who do not have the support or approval of either of their parents due to a breakdown in the relationship (known as estranged) through the Stand Alone Pledge.
Their website gives details of the 'champion institutions' who have taken the Pledge, along with details of the support they have committed to, and you can also listen to estranged students talk about their own experiences of higher education.
Not all universities and colleges who offer support for estranged students have signed the Pledge, so if you don't see your choice on the website, it doesn't mean they can't help you. Check the university's website, or contact their student services office to see what's available.
Go Higher West Yorkshire has produced an e-resource aiming to be a ‘one-stop-shop' to make it easier for you to find out what support is available across its 13 West Yorkshire member providers in terms of getting into and succeeding in higher education, and progressing into employment or further study.
Getting support for other circumstances
The UCAS application gives you the opportunity to let the university or college know about any other circumstances you might need help with – such as if you have a disability, learning difference or mental health condition, if you are a refugee, asylum seeker or with limited leave to remain, or if you have caring or parenting responsibilities.
All questions are asked to make sure you get the right support – find more information on our individual needs pages.
More information and advice if you're going it alone
- The EaCES Handbook is written by estranged and care experienced students (EaCES) to bring together information and advice to help others – including their own experiences and practical tips.
- The Unite Foundation offers accommodation scholarships (at participating universities and colleges), as well as a community, podcast and information for students who are estranged or care experienced
- This Is Us is an online community for estranged and care-experienced students in the UK. This safe space allows students to connect, give each other support, share info, arrange meet-ups and more. It’s free, national and open to all ages and years of study.
Want to ask a current student a question?
If you have a question about an issue that isn't covered here, or a specific university or college, why not try asking a current undergraduate student about their experiences?
Speak to students like Maria on Unibuddy
Ask me about accessing student services, how I fit my studies around my work and family and anything else uni related you can think of!