I'm an estranged student, but I didn’t know how much support was available

Leah shares her experiences of being a student at uni without the support of her family, for Estranged Students Solidarity Week 

Hi all! This week is Estranged Student Solidarity Week, and I am Leah. I am an estranged student at the University of Portsmouth studying Criminology and Forensic Studies, on my placement year in Nottingham doing Digital Fraud Investigation.

So, what is an estranged student?

An estranged student who does not have support from your parents due to a multitude of reasons; breakdown in relationship, the loss of your parents, or if it is not safe to contact them. 

When I was applying to university, I didn’t know how much support was available; the Unite Scholarship, bursaries and pastoral care from the university. Therefore, I am a massive advocate for awareness and the support you can get if you are an estranged student. There is a bursary of £1,000 per year, wellbeing support, and all year-round accommodation.

At university, I made so many friends through societies and my halls. I met my other half through a society, and my flatmates were so lovely; it was so nice to come home to a group of people as opposed to the environment I was used to before. My course is so exciting, and it has given me the opportunity to do internships with the police – this has really enhanced my CV and made me grow in confidence, ready for a workplace when I leave university

COVID-19 has been a weird one. Being in Nottingham for my placement year is really fun and interesting; without my course and internships that I have done before, I wouldn’t be in the job I am in now. I have been lucky that COVID-19 has not affected my placement much, as I count as a key worker, but I know lots of people who work from home and are really enjoying it.

I still get to see my tutor as often as I want, and my placement team help me make sure that I am making the most of the experience through leading meetings with younger students and helping me reach my goals. My advice is that you keep in touch with the excellent support system the university has; university has far more pastoral care than other avenues.

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