The University of Bristol is committed to supporting students who are studying without the support and approval of their parents due to a breakdown in their relationship . We want you to feel safe, supported, and able to reach your potential, and we have a comprehensive support package for students who are estranged.
If you’re considering university you can get in contact with Zaynab Hamdi in the Widening Participation team who can offer support throughout the application process. We run events to help you find out more about university, and prioritise applications from estranged students in our widening participation projects.
If you are an estranged student at the University or would like to find out more information about the support available you can contact Maria Tottle who is available for 1:1 advice, support and coaching throughout your time here. Maria can signpost you to additional support around the University and help you to work through any challenges or concerns you may have.
Events and support for current students
Maria, our dedicated care leaver and estranged student contact working with undergraduate students, is able to provide you with support and guidance. She is contactable by email, Microsoft Teams or telephone. Maria will be sending regular updates, as well as opportunities to stay in touch with her and with each other. To make sure you receive these emails please complete our support for care leavers and estranged students form.
During the year we have some events specifically for you. The first few are noted below, after this we also have monthly catch up sessions.
Friday 23 September, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
This one-hour drop-in session offers the chance to chat with staff and meet other students who are care experienced or are estranged from their families. You’ll be able to find out about the support available at university and take a short (optional) campus tour.
Monday 26 September, 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm at Senate House Marketplace Café
Join Maria for a free lunch, where you can ask questions and get to know other students.
20 – 22 September
During Welcome there will be a Welcome Village on campus where you’ll be able to find live performances, stalls and street food, as well as information about support services. Maria will be at the Student Inclusion Team stand on Tuesday and Thursday so do come and say hello!
If you can’t attend these events, there will be other opportunities to meet throughout the year. You can also meet with Maria individually if you would like to. Make sure you’ve signed up for the monthly bulletin to keep up to date with events and opportunities for you throughout the year.
How do we define an estranged student?
In higher education, the term ‘estranged’ applies to students who are under 25 and have limited or no communication with either of their parents. They may be estranged before entering higher education but can also be at risk of estrangement or becoming estranged during their studies.
You can find out more about how your Student Finance application is assessed as an estranged student here. This is the form that you will be required to fill in to demonstrate estrangement to Student Finance England. Information is also available about support available to estranged students from Wales and Scotland.
If your personal circumstances don’t meet the above definitions (for example, if you are considering estrangement or living with siblings, wider family or friends), or you're not sure, then please do get in contact with us as we’d be happy to talk to you about the support available.
Have you been in care?
If you have been in local authority care, you may be considered a ‘care leaver’ rather than estranged. Please see our information for care leavers about the support available to you.
Helping you thrive
You can find information about support, financing your studies and accommodation options as an estranged student at the University of Bristol below.
Julia Cannon in our Student Funding office can give advice and guidance throughout the student finance application process, including on how to apply for independent status with Student Finance England/Wales/Scotland/NI.
Bristol Standalone Bursary
Our Bristol Standalone Bursary offers estranged students £1,500 for each year of study (not NHS funded years).
Further financial support
The University offers a number of bursaries including the University of Bristol bursary, take a look at what you might be eligible for using our Financial support search tool. Further information about funding your studies is available on our Fees and Funding page.
Unite Foundation Scholarship
Having somewhere of your own to call home matters; the University of Bristol is delighted to be working with the Unite Foundation, supporting students who have previously been in care or are estranged from their parents. The Unite Foundation Scholarship provides recipients with free en-suite accommodation in Unite House or Orchard Heights. With the Unite Foundation scholarship, you’ll have accommodation and bills covered for up to 3 years of study. That includes all through the holidays too, so you don’t have to wonder where to go during reading weeks or over Christmas or summer. You can even stay the summer after you graduate to plan your next move. You can find more information about the scholarship and how to apply on the Unite Foundation Scholarship webpage. We recommend you read through their information and guidance document before applying.
For those not in receipt of the Unite Foundation Scholarship, the Accommodation Office offers self-catered accommodation in Bristol throughout the summer for incoming and current University of Bristol students from £24 per night.
Help with guarantors
Most of our halls of residence do not require a deposit or for you to have a guarantor. If you’re living in private rented accommodation, the University has established a relationship with Housing Hand, a company that offer a fully comprehensive guarantor service available to all students.
If you are unable to find a co-signatory for your guarantor application, or the fees are a barrier for you, please get in touch with Maria (email@example.com) for help.
Wellbeing - where to get help
You can contact Maria Tottle at any point in the year for wellbeing support. This might be for a chat to work through any challenges you may be facing, to talk through the estrangement process, or for 1:1 coaching. We have a range of support at the University which Maria can help you to access.
You are not on your own. There is always a friendly face and listening ear nearby. Find out about the services we have, what they do and how they can help you.
Bristol SU exists so that all students have the best possible time while they are at Bristol. As well as supporting student development through over 330 sports clubs and societies, you can contact the SU for advice and support on how to get the best outcome from university policies, processes and procedures.
Care Leavers and estranged students’ network
The SU Care Leavers and Estranged Students Network was set up by students in 2019. To find out more about the network, their events and support on offer or to join this free network please see the SU Groups Webpage. Networks are an exciting way for students to build communities and create change through collective action. They are representative bodies that can lead campaigns, hold forums and organise social events.
Sign up for our bulletin
If you have been brought up by a relative or friend through a formal arrangement (e.g. fostering or Special Guardianship Order) – you are considered as living ‘in care’ and are typically eligible for support as a care leaver.
If your kinship care arrangements are informal (i.e. you are not considered ‘in care’) you may still be eligible for support as an estranged student.