Site navigation


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.

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.

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.


The Scottish Funding Council use the following definition of estrangement (current at December 2023)

An estranged student is someone who no longer has the support of their family due to a breakdown in their relationship which has led to ceased contact. This might mean biological or adoptive parents or wider family members who have been responsible for supporting a student in the past.

Estranged students have no experience of being in care and do not have a corporate parent responsible for them.


SAAS (Student Award Agency Scotland) use the following definition of estrangement (current at December 2023):

If you are under 25 and estranged from your parents or legal guardians, we will not ask about their income when we work out the funding we give you.

Estranged means that you no longer have contact with your parents or legal guardians due to a permanent breakdown in your relationship.

If you have had any one-off contact with your parents or legal guardians while you have been estranged, we will look at this on a case by case basis.


Estranges 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

o 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.

Unfortunately Stand Alone has ceased operations at 31 March 2024. However SCAPP will continue to work with partners to preserve online resources and link these below.

Existing Resources can be currently found on:

Stand Alone Pledge for Institutions and Organisations who have reaffirmed their commitment to supporting Estranged Students.


Stand Alone has also shared the following guides with SCAPP which may be of use to Professionals supporting Estranged Students that they work with:


Other sources of information and support:

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


UCAS has information for those applying without family support.


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


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


CEEC Forums (Care Experience, Estranged & Carers Forums)

For professionals across Higher Education Institutions who support these groups of students.

There are three current forums, East, West and North.


East Group contact is Jenny Edwards, The Hub for Success:

West Group contact is Dan Keenan, University of Glasgow:

North Group contact is Dr Sally Middleton, University of Aberdeen:


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