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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).

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.

Success for All Hardship fund

The University, in partnership with its alumni community, has created a fund to offer additional financial support if you are experiencing unexpected financial hardship which is affecting your ability to study within your current academic year.

Priority will be given to students undertaking their first degree who are from low income households or without family support. The majority of funds are means-tested and you will be asked to provide evidence in support of your application.

Allowable expenditure includes (but is not exclusive to):

  • Accommodation fees
  • Travel
  • Childcare
  • Course costs
  • Living costs
  • IT equipment costs
  • Unexpected one-off costs

 As an Estranged Student, am I eligible to apply for this support? 

Yes, all registered Undergraduate and Postgraduate students are eligible to apply. If your course is part-time, distance learning, or you commute to University, you are also still eligible for support.

We recognise that as an estranged student, you may face a number of unique issues, and these will be considered in your application. If you have dependents, or commuting is necessary for your course, please let us know and this will be considered in your application. Please note we will ask for supporting documents to evidence these costs.

For more information or about applying to the Success for All hardship fund please click here

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.

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

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