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An estranged student is someone who no longer has the support of their family due to a breakdown in family relations leading to ceased or sporadic contact.

o They have no experience of being in care and do not have a corporate parent or a local authority responsible for them. It is for this reason that they are not care experienced.
o They are also distinct from independent students as they are permanently estranged from their families

Estrangement can occur for a wide variety of reasons such as abuse and neglect, rejection of LGBT+ identities, clash in personal values, clash of religious values and substance abuse.


SAAS and the SFC use the following definition of estrangement (updated at November 2022):

An estranged person is someone who no longer has contact with their parents or legal guardians, due to a permanent breakdown in their relationship (isolated instances of contact will be considered on a case by case basis).


These students report the following hardships

o Financial difficulties
o Difficulty in securing accommodation due to guarantor requirements
o Lack of a sense of belonging
o Mental ill-health
o Homelessness
o Disruption to studies

Universities and colleges can support these students in the following ways
o Offer a named point of contact to support the student both during their application and throughout the duration of their studies
o Provide 365 day accommodation in halls of residence to relieve some of the concerns about experiencing homelessness in the summer months
o Dedicated bursaries and scholarships to ensure that students are financially supported
o Creation of accessible guarantor schemes to allow students to have the flexibility of living in privately rented accommodation if they wish.

The lack of a parental guarantor is a crucial barrier to this for students studying without parental supporto Signposting students to appropriate support where needed such as university counselling services

Resource and Contacts

Standalone is a national organisation which supports people who are estranged from their family or children. Their primary objective is to break down the stigma around estrangement and support estranged people in their daily lives.

Take a look at their research and resources page for more.

Contact Details
34B York Way
N1 9AB

Twitter: @StandAloneHE and @UKStandAlone


Unite Foundation provides scholarships and free accommodation for partner universities
Contact details:
0117 302 7073


CEECEF (Care Experience, Estranged & Carers East Forum)

East Group contact is Lorraine Moore, Edinburgh Napier University

West Group contact is Dan Keenan, University of Glasgow contact
North Group contact is sally Middleton, Aberdeen University


SAAS Student Awards Agency for Scotland provides information about funding and support available for estranged students.

The Buttle Trust offers grants for estranged young people to purchase various essential items to aid them throughout their studies. However, this must be applied for through a support worker or university/ college contact
Contact details: 0141 778 2839


Report – Estranged students in further and higher education

In March 2022 the Scottish Government commissioned ScotCen to undertake research on the experiences of estranged students in Scotland.
This research included a rapid literature review, interviews and focus groups.

Read the report, here.

Network Group

If you would like to be part of a network and interest group to share experience, examine issues and challenges and develop appropriate best practice resources, please contact