Natalie Bracher, Access & Success Officer, University of Exeter, Claire Botham - Widening Participation Specialist Adviser, University of Exeter Students' Guild and Rachel Farmer, Welfare Consultant

The University of Exeter has supported Estranged Student Solidarity Week with a pledge to continue to provide wellbeing and financial support for students who are separated from their families.

Those studying without material, emotional and financial backing from parents are more likely to interrupt or withdraw from their studies and to have poor mental health linked to significant trauma within their childhood.

The University of Exeter is renewing a pledge created by Stand Alone, a registered charity that support people who are estranged from their family, for higher education institutions to publicly commit their support to estranged students and continue to develop the right environments and conditions for estranged students to complete their studies. 

The renewal of the pledge was celebrated at a special event at the University of Exeter where Vice Chancellor Professor Lisa Roberts met with university staff, representatives from the Students’ Guild and estranged students to discuss provision and any improvements which could be made.

The University of Exeter first signed the Stand Alone Pledge in October 2017 and financial and pastoral support for students has significantly increased since then.

Nicola Sinclair, University of Exeter Head of Access, Participation and Outreach, said: “We are very aware how traumatic and chaotic life can be as an estranged student. Their wellbeing is paramount to us, and we work to help them address the often urgent financial implications too.”

Professor Roberts said: ““The University of Exeter is committed to creating an environment in which estranged students can thrive, and we support every student throughout their degree so that they have the stability they need to succeed in their studies. By renewing the Stand Alone Pledge, we are affirming our steadfast commitment to providing all estranged students with the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

The pledge requires universities to establish a named contact for estranged students; to develop processes to identify students and monitor their progress; to ensure staff and students across departments and faculties are aware of the support available to estranged students and to commit to staff development around awareness of the barriers estranged students face. 

The University of Exeter has two dedicated members of staff based in Wellbeing and the Students’ Guild Advice Service that supports students that are under-represented in higher education including supporting estranged students. This includes wellbeing support, helping with finances, accessing counselling, and supporting them to find somewhere to live outside of term time.

The University of Exeter has also recently been given a Stand Alone Pledge Award in recognition for innovation and creativity in supporting estranged student’s emotional wellbeing.

Details of support is available on the University’s Estranged students web page.