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Estranged Students

We recognise that not every student coming to university has the support of a direct family network and that the journey to university, transition and experience of study can present challenges for students who are independent due to irreconcilable estrangement. The university can offer advice and support to students who are irreconcilably estranged from their family or experience a breakdown in the relationship with family, before or during their studies. We aim to work with students who are estranged to ensure they feel supported throughout their entire student journey, from application, during their studies and through to graduation.

Northumbria University and Unite Foundation

We are working in partnership with the Unite Foundation on the ‘Home at University: Widening Access & Participation Pilot’.

The scholarships are open to students who are care leavers or estranged from their family, and who are applying for their first year of undergraduate study at Northumbria University starting in the academic year 2023/24. The scholarship covers accommodation and bills for 365 days a year for up to three years of study.

Find out more

The University uses the term ‘estrangement’ to describe an irreconcilable separation or breakdown in the relationship between a student who is under the age of 25 and their biological or adoptive parent/s. A student who is estranged from their family will have no communicative relationship with either of their biological/ adoptive parents and they do not expect the situation to be reconciled.

The university recognises that estrangement means you may face some unique challenges on your journey to university. As such, we have a dedicated member of our outreach team who can provide information and advice to support you from deciding if university is right for you, through to applying and transitioning to university.

As an estranged student, you would likely be eligible for one of our supported entry schemes. These schemes offer a range of support and opportunities, to help students throughout their journey to Northumbria University. In addition to the information and support provided through the scheme, successful completion of one of the supported entry schemes enables students to earn supported entry scheme points, equivalent to UCAS tariff points, when applying to Northumbria university. 

For more information about these schemes and to apply, please visit our supported entry scheme webpage.

Estranged students wishing to find out more and visit the university, should get in touch to discuss arranging an individual campus visit, which will also provide you with an opportunity to find out more about the bespoke support we offer for estranged students.

We are here to support you throughout your journey to university and are able to provide information and advice for care experienced students on an individual basis throughout the application process.

If you are currently holding an offer with us and require any support or have any questions about the transition, such as finding accommodation or financial support, further information about this support can be found below or please do get in touch.



How we can help whilst you study with us?

The Student Inclusion Team, based within Student Life and Wellbeing, is a key point of contact for students who are or become estranged within the University whilst you study with us.  The team offers advice on a range of issues and has a dedicated Wellbeing Practitioner who can advise on welfare, financial, academic and health matters and act as a referral point into other support services within the University. Here are the ways we can support you through NU Belong:



Student Finance:

Most undergraduate students studying in Higher Education who are under the age of 25 are automatically considered as financially dependent on their parents when being assessed for their student support. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including students that are estranged from their parents.

Students are classed as estranged by Student Finance if they are ‘irreconcilably estranged’ from their parents on or before the first day of the academic year for which they are applying for funding and/or they have had no contact with their parents for a period of 1 year on or before the first day of the academic year for which they are applying. However please note, whilst there is a mention of one year in the regulations this does not mean that every student must have been estranged for a year. It is more about the likelihood of the situation being irreconcilable than the length of the estrangement.

As some of the student funding from Student Finance is means tested on parent’s income, estranged students who have not submitted evidence of their status would only be awarded the non-means tested amount from Student Finance. Acknowledgement of your estranged status from Student Finance ensures that you receive your full entitlement and significantly increases the amount of living costs support available to you.  This is because you would be deemed to be an independent student.

Evidencing estrangement to Student Finance can be a complex and sensitive subject and everyone’s circumstances will be different. In order to be classed as estranged, you will need to have your circumstances verified by a third party that is independent from your family.

The person who will need to verify your circumstances should ideally be a professional person. Who you ask to do this on your behalf will depend a lot on when you became estranged and who (if anyone) was involved e.g. doctor, teacher, social worker etc.  We know that in many cases, you may not have involved anyone else in your situation. If you are unsure of what to do or send, then you can speak to a designated contact in the Student Inclusion Team who can give you advice and guidance based on your individual circumstances.

Stand Alone have produced guidance materials on the student finance application process to support students who are estranged from their family and studying without the support of a family network.  For more information, please visit the StandAlone Student Guide.


University Estrangement Bursary:

NU Belong is able to offer undergraduate students who are estranged a bursary of £2000 from the University’s Access to Learning Fund (Hardship Funding). The bursary is a fast-tracked application to ensure you are financially supported during your studies.

To be eligible for the Bursary students will be asked to provide confirmation that they have been assessed as independent due to irreconcilable estrangement by Student Finance for that funding year.

If you are eligible for the Estrangement Bursary, your £2,000 award will be split into two equal payments across the academic year.

NU Belong provides a designated named contact within Student Life and Wellbeing for students who are estranged from their parent/s. They can assist you if you are experiencing difficulties, have any concerns and are unsure on where to go for help. Whether you have academic, funding, wellbeing or personal concerns, your designated contact can offer guidance, support and referrals into other University services if required. Our aim is to ensure that our students receive the right advice and support from the right people when needed.

Your designated contact from the Student Inclusion Team will also contact you once a term as a commitment to offering the opportunity for a 1 -1 appointment. These are not mandatory but 1 – 1 time can be beneficial for students to discuss any specific worries or concerns, an opportunity to reflect or set future goals, or as an opportunity to simply chat through how you are getting along.

NU Belong will promote opportunities, initiatives and events aimed at enhancing your student experience, engagement and empowering you towards success. Students are able to agree to receive communications on these from the Student Inclusion Team as part of the online enrolment but can also opt-in at any point.



How to Contact Us:

Current students can enquire via their Student Portal. If you are not a current student and you would like to contact us please use this form and we'll be in touch 

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