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Award recognition for University’s support of estranged students

29 November 2018

Students standing in row

Cardiff University has been nominated for a UK award for the help it offers students who are studying without any family support.

The term estranged student is used to refer to students who are studying without the support and approval of a family network.

Young people in this position often have no contact with their family and have removed themselves from a dysfunctional situation.

The Stand Alone charity has shortlisted the University’s work as part of a project to raise awareness and improve the experience of estranged students in Higher Education.

The charity has encouraged universities to sign up to its HE Pledge to develop better support for estranged students.

Cardiff University was the first university in Wales to sign up to the pledge.

Stand Alone’s Excellence and Innovation Awards recognise outstanding commitment and innovative approaches to supporting estranged students by Higher Education institutions.

Einir England, who supports estranged students as part of the University’s Student Support and Wellbeing department, said: “It’s great to be recognised for our work in this area. As a University we’re committed to providing estranged students with the support they require to succeed.

“We are currently supporting 30 estranged students this year but I’m sure there are many more students who could benefit from the support but haven’t made contact with us."

Students could be estranged from their family before starting their course or the estrangement could happen during their course. Students become estranged for a number of different reasons, but often emotional abuse alongside clashes of values and beliefs and mismatched expectations about family roles play a key part.

Einir England

Cardiff University has been nominated in the Graduation and Beyond category, and support includes an estranged student bursary, liaison with careers and employability support, and a graduation package that includes the hiring of the cap and gown and paying for the photograph.

The University offers a broad range of support to estranged students including a bursary, priority for a financial assistance programme, a dedicated mentor and all-year-round university halls accommodation if required.

Stand Alone will announce the award winners during Estranged Students Solidarity Campaign week from 26 to 30 November 2018.

Student case study

Amy (not her real name) has never been close to her father. Her relationship with her mother was very difficult and her maternal grandmother brought her and her sister up. She had contact with her mother, but they are not close.

Amy’s grandmother suffers with dementia. During her first academic year studying at Cardiff University her grandmother was admitted to hospital and later to a nursing home. At this point Amy and her sister moved in with their mother. Unfortunately, the situation got quite volatile and their mother become violent towards them. Amy and her sister found themselves homeless and approached a charity which helped them register themselves as homeless. They were eventually housed by their council. This all happened while Amy was undertaking her course at Cardiff University.

Amy contacted us in the Advice and Money Team initially as she was having difficulties with Student Finance. Her mother had originally supplied information about her income so that Amy received funding, but because of the relationship breakdown, it was inappropriate to ask her mother for her income details for the following year.

Einir England, the dedicated member of staff for estranged students, helped Amy and liaised with Student Finance who awarded her independent status, which meant she received full funding in her own right. Amy was awarded the Estranged Student Bursary for her final year and was put forward and received a graduation package that included covering the cost of hiring the cap and gown and a photo package.

Amy graduated in 2017 and has been working in housing ever since. She is currently working as a property co-ordinator. Amy’s dream is to become a teacher and she has just been offered a place on a Postgraduate Certificate in Education course starting in September 2019.

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