Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
The Student HubSupport and wellbeing

Estranged Students

At the University of Southampton, we provide advice and offer support to estranged young people from application to graduation. Going to university can be a daunting experience for many individuals and we understand the hurdles independent students may face. We want to make your transition to university as smooth as possible and ensure you have access to all the support you might need, to give you the best chance to succeed.

Estranged Student

The term 'estranged student' is used to refer to students who are under 25 years old and are studying without the support of their family. Estranged students typically have no contact with their parents (either biological or adoptive) and sometimes with their wider family for a variety of reasons.

If you have been brought up by another relative or someone other than your parents through a formal arrangement such as private fostering, kinship foster care or a Special Guardianship Order, you are usually considered as living ‘in care’ and may be eligible for support as a care leaver

If your kinship care is through a private or informal family arrangement and you’ve been brought up by another relative without the involvement of children’s services, you are not considered to be ‘in care’ but you may still be eligible for support as an estranged student depending on your circumstances.

At the University, we acknowledge that estranged students studying with us are likely to have concerns regarding their accommodation and financial stability. As part of our commitment in supporting this group to succeed, we have signed up to the Stand Alone Pledge to publicly declare our support for these individuals. 

Stand Alone

Stand Alone Pledge

You're able to view our pledge commitment on the Stand Alone website

Click here

Estrangement can occur at any time and for a variety of reasons. If your circumstances change and you become estranged before you join the University, you may wish to contact us even before you apply to let us know of your situation. You’re also welcome to contact us at any stage during your studies so we can help you secure the appropriate support at the earliest opportunity.


Student Finance

You could apply for student finance as an estranged student if you haven’t had any contact with either of your parents for some time, or your relationship with your parents has broken down within the last 12 months and you don’t expect this to change in the near future.

If you are irreconcilably estranged from your parents, you will not be asked to provide any of your parent’s financial details. Student Finance understand that it may not be possible or safe for some students to ask their parents for their income details. If this applies to you, they can look to assess you as an independent student. Common examples of estrangement can include students that are living with friends, living in supported accommodation, or living with other family members such as aunts, uncles, or grandparents. Each application for estrangement is reviewed on your own unique circumstances.

Please note, you would not be assessed on the basis of estrangement if you just live separately from your parents, they're unwilling to complete income assessment forms or if they're on a low income and cannot help support you financially.

The University can offer advice about applying as an estranged student and provide assistance throughout the process. Stand Alone have compiled a useful guide to help you navigate the process and further information on it can be found here.

If you haven’t been assessed by Student Finance as an estranged student but believe you should be, please contact one of the designated student contacts below to ensure you receive the appropriate support.

The University’s Financial Support Package

If you are assessed as an estranged student, you will be classified as independent by the Student Loans Company. These individuals are assessed on their own income and are therefore usually entitled to the full university bursary.

The University’s Student Support Fund is designed to help should you find yourself in financial hardship at any point during your studies. Further information on eligibility and how to apply can be found here.

Estranged Student Bursary

In addition to the above support package, eligible full time and enrolled students are also entitled to our Care Leaver & Estranged Student Bursary of £2,000. This is payable to you in two instalments, the first payment is made in November and the second payment is made in June. For more information on the eligibility criteria as well as the terms and conditions of the bursary, please click here.

Additionally, to aid in your transition to the University, eligible new students in their first year of study are provided a Welcome Pack containing vouchers and useful information to help you settle in.


Halls Accommodation

As part of our commitment, we can help you have access to university halls accommodation for 365 days a year. 

New students starting in the 2023/24 academic year must apply by the 1st July 2023 to be guaranteed an offer in halls.

Please apply for a standard university accommodation contract at your preferred halls site, and your designated point of contact will discuss your requirements with you in more detail once you have moved in.

Further information on our halls can be found on the accommodation homepage.

Private Rented Accommodation

For those who don’t wish to live in university accommodation, we encourage you to search for properties on the Southampton Accreditation Scheme for Student Housing (SASSH) website.

This scheme, run in partnership between the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University and Southampton City Council, exists to ensure that all students have access to a supply of high quality, safe accommodation. Having been in operation now for over ten years, it’s helped thousands of Southampton students to find and rent a comfortable and well managed student home.


Designated Contacts

David Munn works for the Student Inclusion Team and is the University’s estranged student’s contact. If you need any advice or are experiencing difficulties and not sure who to contact, he will be happy to help you with any query you might have and, if necessary, direct you to the appropriate service to meet your needs. David can help ensure you have access to year round halls accommodation and provide assistance with applying and obtaining evidence for the University’s Care Leaver & Estranged Student Bursary. You can get in contact with David by emailing or on 023 8059 6815.

Michelle Fisher is an Adviser in the Students’ Union Advice Centre which gives independent and confidential support. The advisers are able to provide assistance regarding a number of areas including Student Finance, housing and academic issues. You can get in contact with Michelle by emailing or by calling 023 8059 2085.

Student Inclusion Team

The Student Inclusion Team are here to ensure every student feels supported and part of one engaged learning community. If you need any support or guidance just get in touch - the team are always happy to help – whether the issue involves academic, financial or emotional matters.


If you find yourself struggling with something whilst you are at University, then talking to someone about what is troubling you can make a big difference to how you feel; the Student Wellbeing team is available for you to speak to about any emotional, mental health or wellbeing issues. Contact the Student Hub, if you ever need to reach out to them.

Personal Academic Tutor & Student Office

If you have any concerns about your academic studies, your Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) is there to advise and support you with any issues, which may affect your studies. At the start of the year, we would encourage you to meet your PAT and if you feel comfortable, explain your situation so they are able to support you and your individual needs.

If you are unsure how to contact your PAT, your Student Office can help put you in contact and/or arrange an appointment.

Your Student Office deals with the administrative aspects of your programme, including those relating to coursework, assessments and exams. If you are unable to attend any timetabled lectures or seminars for any reason, you may need to inform your Student Office.  You can find out how to contact your School’s Student Office here.

Getting Involved

There are many ways to get involved with university life and many opportunities to meet new people; try to explore the opportunities available to you, as these can be a great way of developing a peer support network. 

Clubs and Societies

The University of Southampton Students’ Union has over 200 societies covering a wide range of interests; these are a great opportunity to meet new people and maybe even try something new.

University Activities & Events

The University and Students' Union put on a range of activities and events throughout the year. To stay up to date with everything that is happening on our campuses make sure to check SUSSED, the University and Students’ Union Events Calendars, as well as the University’s social media channels

Become a Student Ambassador

Becoming an ambassador is great way to both meet other student and learn new skills, all while earning money. We are always looking for enthusiastic and friendly students to become Student Ambassadors to help with events organised by our Recruitment and Outreach team.

Working as a student ambassador can be fun and varied, providing you with a huge range of exciting challenges and opportunities to get involved with, alongside your studies. Further information and how to apply can be found here.

Advice & Tips

  • Ease your transition and prepare for University life by getting involved in Welcome Week, held each year before the start of Semester 1; collect your Student ID card and get involved in the many events and information sessions.
  • Download our official MySouthampton app onto your phone or tablet; this gives you easy access to your timetable, campus maps, university emails, travel information and more. 
  • As you settle in to university life take some time to familiarise yourself with your campus. 
  • Everybody’s life and demands are different but managing your time effectively and making a plan that fits with your studies or other commitments will help keep things on track.


Applying to external funding bodies can sometimes take longer than you expect. We recommend that you start looking to apply for Student Finance in February or March of the year you are starting university. To apply for the full level of funding you’re entitled to, you’ll need to supply some supporting evidence which may consists of some of the following:

  • a letter from a member of staff at your school or college
  • a letter from your doctor if you have consulted one because of related problems
  • a letter from your social worker, local authority, housing support worker, or religious leader if they have helped with, or been made aware of, your circumstances
  • a letter from a counsellor or charitable organisation
  • a letter from your Jobcentre Plus office outlining any benefits you have claimed (e.g. income support)
  • a statement from the police showing any related incidents
  • a forced marriage or FGM (female genital mutilation) order
  • a court order

Supporting statements which show you have very recently told an independent person about your situation aren’t acceptable as evidence for Student Finance. The person you ask must normally have historic knowledge of your situation, as well as being able to verify that you’ve not had written or verbal contact with your parents for a substantial period of time. Letters from other family members, family friends or partners also aren’t accepted but can be used as secondary supporting evidence if further details are required about your circumstances.

Proving estrangement can be difficult, we recommend you to try and gather as much evidence as you can. This will give Student Finance the best possible chance of understanding your situation. Try to ensure you’ve explained your circumstances clearly, sometimes making a timeline of key events can help if you’re comfortable doing so. We also encourage you to send all of your statements together in the same envelope, with a covering letter which states your customer reference number. This will assist the person assessing your application to understand the whole picture of your circumstances when they look into your case.

Privacy Settings