Support for Estranged Students

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Support for Estranged Students

If you are estranged and you are considering applying to college or university, there is support available to you. This support can be provided from LEAPS, your school, or the college or university you are considering. The support can vary, so we’ve put together some information below to get you started. Remember to check out our other articles on the LEAPS website and information on the S5 Hub and S6 Blog, including Financial Support for Estranged Students and Student Wellbeing

What does ‘estranged’ mean?

Definitions are flexible across institutions, but LEAPS defines estranged students as a young person who currently has little or no contact with either of their parents and/or their legal guardian. They may not have been formally supported with this by the care system or a social worker etc. Crucially, if estrangement happens after someone has turned 16, they are unable to access social services in the same way as someone under 16 years of age, who would most likely be defined as care experienced.

Top tip: You can find out more about the challenges faced by estranged individuals, as well as support and guidance available, on Stand Alone’s website. (Stand Alone is a charity set up to help people who have become estranged from their family or a key family member.)

How can LEAPS help?

Here at LEAPS we have a named contact for estranged students: Hayley Jones. Hayley can help you with the following:

  • Advice on considering college or university
  • Support during the application process
  • Information about financial support available
  • Emails throughout the year with information and advice for estranged students
  • Introduce you to named contacts at college or universities
  • A friendly chat in person, on the phone or email to answer any questions – big or small!

You can reach Hayley at or by phone (see details on our contact us page).

LEAPS updates for estranged students

If you are in S5 or S6, and you would like to receive relevant updates from LEAPS to help you explore your higher education options, you can sign-up for these here.

Support for estranged students at school:

You might find it helpful to speak with your Guidance Teacher at school about your situation. Your school may be able to support you during your school studies, and your Guidance Teacher may note your estrangement in your UCAS teacher’s reference. This will help universities and colleges understand challenges you may have faced during your school studies.

Top Tip: estranged students often develop many valuable skills, like independence. You might consider including this in your UCAS personal statement or college application, to show some of your positive qualities. On the other hand, if you’d rather not disclose your situation, you are under no obligation to do so. It’s up to you. 

Support for estranged students at college or university:

Universities and colleges are increasingly aware of the challenges that estranged students may face during their studies, and many now have named contacts for students in this situation. The named contact is someone you can contact throughout your studies and can help you access financial, academic or personal support that suits you.

LEAPS have compiled a list of named contacts for estranged students at univeristies and colleges here. Please be aware this information might change from time to time.

Support varies at each institution. For example, many colleges and universities in Scotland have signed up to Stand Alone’s Pledge, a public commitment to to support students who are studying without the support or approval of a family network. Other colleges and universities may have less formal provision in place, or may themselves be working towards adopting the Pledge. In any case, LEAPS can introduce you to the named contact at the institution(s) you are considering or planning to study at, so that you can discuss what support is available to you. This might include:

  • Pre-application support e.g. campus visits
  • Access to additional or discretionary funds
  • Access to student wellbeing services, counselling and health services
  • A regular contact to speak with during your studies

Useful links:

LEAPS Blog – Financial Support for Estranged Students

LEAPS Blog – Student Wellbeing 

UCAS Resource – Going it alone? Support for Estranged Students

Buttle Trust – a range financial support for estranged young people

Stand Alone – charity set up to help those who have become estranged from their family

University of Strathclyde – Estranged Students: Widening Participation Postcards (highlight this training resource to your university or college)


Blog image tile reproduced with kind permission from Estranged Students: Illustrating the Issues. Glasgow: University of Strathclyde by Taylor, Y., Costa, C., & Singh, S. (2019).