University pledges support for students estranged from their families

Firth CourtStudents who are estranged from their families will receive comprehensive support in higher education as part of a pledge signed by the University of Sheffield.

The pledge, launched by the charity Stand Alone, is a commitment by higher education institutions to recognise and strengthen their current and future support for students who are estranged from their families.

The pledge recognises the University of Sheffield’s commitment to provide help in four key areas where estranged students feel the lack of family support the most: finance, accommodation, access and transition, and mental health and wellbeing.

Amongst the additional support, the University has designated staff to provide information, advice, and support on the finance available to students. Sheffield also provides enhanced bursaries and scholarships, available to both undergraduates and postgraduates.

Specialist staff at the University provide bespoke support to help students secure year-long accommodation. Students living in University-owned accommodation are also supported 24/7 by Sheffield’s Residence Life team.

Students are offered a peer mentor from their academic department who is in the year above. The mentor acts as a friendly face and a source of support to ease the transition into University life. The Student Advice Centre in the Students' Union also provides independent and confidential advice to students who are estranged from their families to support their transition to university.

The University has also pledged to provide support for students with mental health issues. This support includes:

  • The University Health Service, which is staffed by leading health professionals with experience in supporting mental health
  • The University Counselling Service, which provides a range of psychological support, including triage assessment, self-help, mindfulness, workshops, group therapy, and individual counselling
  • The Disability and Dyslexia Support Service

As part of the pledge, Sheffield is also working with schools and colleges to help young people estranged from their families apply to university. This includes:

  • Consideration of extenuating circumstances and disrupted studies when making offers to students
  • Links with local charities, foyer and homeless shelters, and other local HE institutions
  • Training University staff to raise awareness of the challenges faced by estranged students
  • Providing careers advice and work experience bursaries to students from under-represented groups and disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Specific information for estranged students on the University’s website detailing the support available to them

Professor Wyn Morgan, Vice-President for Education at the University of Sheffield, said:

“We’re proud to pledge our support for an initiative which helps some of the most vulnerable students in higher education. We believe that people from all parts of society should be given the opportunity to fulfil their potential regardless of their backgrounds or personal circumstances, so we’re delighted to be part of this project which helps with that.

“As a university, we have a long history of supporting people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve success in applying to university and studying with us.

“We’re also working in partnership across the Sheffield City Region with fellow universities, colleges, local authorities, charities, and the Higher Education Progression Partnership to support children in care, care leavers and young adult carers. Estranged students are now benefiting from much of this support and we are pleased to pledge ongoing support for this deserving group.”

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