A student with brown hair, glasses and a yellow jumper is listening to student finance advisor James Quinn (who has short brown hair, a grey jumper and a purple lanyard) who is showing her a leaflet

The University's Student Finance Centre supports students who have no contact with their family

23 November 2022

4 minutes

The University of Portsmouth has won an award for its work to support estranged students who embark on their university journey alone. 

There are 145 students at the University who have no contact with their family and are supported by the University's Student Finance Centre to ensure they have help with finances, housing and wellbeing.  

The Student Finance Centre has now been awarded for ‘best practice and innovation in support for mental health and emotional wellbeing aimed at estranged students’ by the Stand Alone Pledge Awards.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith said: “We want to ensure that all students from all backgrounds have a wonderful experience at university, regardless of means. Students who are estranged from their families or are leaving care face particular challenges, which the Student Finance Centre team work hard to overcome. I’m very proud of their commitment to supporting these students and think this award is tremendously well deserved.”

The University signed the Stand Alone pledge in 2017 to ensure that estranged students are supported, as part of the institution’s commitment to widening participation. The Student Finance Centre have continued to develop their support using feedback from the estranged students and have now been recognised for this work. 

L-R: Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith, Student Finance Advice Officer James Quinn and Head of Student Finance Rachael Lyons 

Student Finance Advice Officer, James Quinn, said: “There are a number of ways we support estranged students, including offering guaranteed year-round accommodation in halls of residence so students don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to live over the holidays. We also offer a £1,000 bursary to help cover study costs and we ensure students have a dedicated adviser from the finance centre and from student wellbeing.

“We’re focused on doing everything we can to enable these students to do well at university despite their family circumstances and we’re really pleased that this work has been recognised.”

The team also works closely with the Estranged Students Society (ESS) to explore ways to build relations with students and better support them. They schedule regular check-in phone calls, especially over the holiday periods, and offer financial support for the ESS Christmas meal.

The team received the award during the Estranged Students Solidarity Week from 21st - 25th November, which aims to raise awareness of the barriers estranged students face in higher education.