For most young people, family networks offer vital support through their student years. But for students who are estranged from their families, there’s no one to fall back on, and that’s why we want to help.

Emerging data shows that one in five families in the UK are affected by estrangement, mostly caused by parents divorcing or remarrying, abuse, or the rejection of an individual’s values or sexuality. At Bournemouth University, our student support teams work with around 70 estranged students each year, although they estimate that many more are struggling alone without the official classification of estrangement.

BU has signed up to the Stand Alone Pledge, highlighting our commitment to supporting estranged students to succeed in higher education. We do what we can within the funding available, but with philanthropic donations, we want to:

  • Operate an accommodation and living expenses fund to help estranged students during the university holidays, particularly the long summer break, when their peers will be returning to be with families (we are grateful for the generosity of a grant-making trust which is enabling us to launch a pilot fund in summer 2024)
  • Provide gift vouchers to every estranged student at Christmas and birthdays, times when we know they are struggling and isolation from family networks can be felt most acutely
  • Offer ‘exit grants’ to ease the transition of these students from studying into employment.

To receive updates on our estranged student fundraising activities, register your details via our online form. Alternatively, contact Jonathan Goode, Head of Fundraising & Alumni Relations, to find out more at [email protected]

Understanding estrangement

  • Estranged students are young people aged between 18 and 24 who are studying without the support and approval of their family network, due to breakdowns in relationships
  • Estranged students are more likely to drop out of university, and less likely to get higher grades, according to experimental data released by The Office for Students (the main regulator for universities) in 2020
  • The struggles of these young people often go unrecognised by statutory services, with research suggesting that 60% of estranged cases lack any kind of social services intervention
  • A survey of estranged students, led by Uni Connect and funded by the Office for Students, found that:
    • 68% said there was a stigma around family estrangement
    • 90% found the holiday periods and key dates (such as Christmas, exam results and graduation) the most challenging.