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Estranged students

We are committed to supporting any young person who is estranged from their family and who is studying without the support or approval of a family network. As part of this commitment the University has proudly taken the Stand Alone Pledge which will help provide support for estranged students in the following areas: financial, accommodation, wellbeing, peer mentoring, careers and employability.

We understand that no two estranged students’ circumstances are the same and realise that you may not fully identify as estranged or meet the criteria to be considered self-supporting. In any case, we are committed to supporting you throughout your studies.

If you would like more information, require support or have questions about estrangement or your own circumstances, whether this is before you apply to Exeter or at any stage of your course, please do not hesitate to contact the Advice Team at the Students’ Guild (Exeter Campuses) or FXU’s Advice Service (Penryn).

Virtual Coffee Morning – Monday 23 November

Life under lockdown this year is challenging for us all, but we recognise that it can be particularly lonely for students who are estranged from their family. 

In recognition of Estranged Students Solidarity Week from 23-27 November, we will be holding a Virtual Coffee Morning on Monday 23 November in collaboration with Exeter Students' Guild. Students who are estranged from their families will be able to chat to support staff, meet other students in a similar situation, and learn more about the support available.

Those who wish to attend will receive a £5 e-voucher from Costa Coffee.

To find out more and to book this event, please contact Claire Botham by emailing

We have outlined below what estrangement is and how and why it might happen.

Who is ‘estranged’?

More than 9,000 young people currently receive financial support from Student Finance England due to estrangement. There are many complex reasons a student may be estranged, including:

  • victims of emotional or physical abuse by family members;
  • people who have been threatened with or who have experienced ‘honour’-based violence, forced marriage;
  • those who have experienced familial rejection based on their sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • prospective or continuing students who have been disowned for pursuing education or a particular course of study;
  • young people who are homeless or are at risk of homelessness; and
  • care-leavers – people who have been in care or have experienced intervention from social services.

Student Finance England

If you are irreconcilably estranged from your family, you can ask to be assessed as an independent student and be assessed on your own household income. The university can offer advice about applying as an independent student and provide guidance through the process.

Financial support

For undergraduate students there is the opportunity to apply for:

  • the Access to Exeter Bursary
  • additional financial support (Estranged Student Bursary), this amount is not fixed and will be dependent on your situation.

For advice and guidance for both applying to Student Finance England as an Independent Student and applying for additional funding, please contact the Advice Team at the Students' Guild.

Further information about funding is available on our financial support pages.

Hardship fund

Hardship funds are also available to help provide emergency funding for students. They are given out every year by the government to those who need extra financial support because they have higher than expected costs. Find out more about the Hardship and Retention fund.

365 day accommodation

We recognise that estranged students can face significantly greater disadvantage while searching for a home and when looking for year-round accommodation. The University of Exeter will provide 365 day access to accommodation - in particular to cover the holiday periods - to remove the obstacle of having to find temporary vacation accommodation.

Unite Foundation Scholarship Scheme (Exeter Campuses only)

As part of our Stand Alone pledge, we also have the Unite Foundation Scholarship Scheme. The University is proud to be in partnership with the Unite Foundation. The Unite Foundation is a charitable trust, which focuses on enabling young people under the age of 25 to make the most of educational opportunity. The Unite Foundation offers generous scholarships for estranged students and/or care leavers. Each scholar currently receives free accommodation for three years within a Unite student building. The award is also complemented by access to activities and opportunities that support scholar employability.

Scholarships are awarded annually with 2019/2020 applications being accepted from January until May 2019.

To download an application form visit the Unite Foundation website.

Once the form is completed please send to to be checked and forwarded to the Unite Foundation before the June deadline.

Health and wellbeing are crucial ingredients of effective study, as well as a rich and fulfilling student experience, but staying well in body and mind isn’t always easy at university. We recognise that it’s much more difficult to learn and enjoy student life when personal difficulties or emotional worries arise. Sometimes you need a little help to get “back on track” and our Wellbeing Team can offer a range of services to support you both personally and within your studies if difficulties occur.

For more information about support available see the Wellbeing website or email

Peer Mentoring (Exeter campus)

We understand that the best and most reassuring advice often comes from fellow students who have been in the same position and share similar backgrounds and experiences. This is why we have developed a Peer Support programme which gives you the opportunity to gain support and advice from other care leavers and estranged students in higher years at the University of Exeter.

As current students who are care leavers or estranged from their families, the Peer Mentors on this programme have had experience of accessing support from the University so they are able to guide you on where to go and who to speak to.  They can draw on their own experiences of adjusting to University life and can give reassurance about any worries or concerns you may have.

To access this support, please contact Rachael Grimshire or see the Peer Menoring site.

The University of Exeter offers career and employability support and guidance throughout your time studying with us; with continued support after you graduate. The Career Zone can offer a wide variety of programmes, including fully funded internships and mentoring schemes to support your entrance into the work place. These programmes offer the flexibility to create your own internship, financially supported by the Career Zone.

For further information please see the Careers website or contact:

Exeter Career Zone campuses
01392 724493

Penryn Career Zone
01326 253735