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Durham University

Colleges & wider student experience

Student news

University pledges support for estranged students

(16 January 2019)

We’re pleased to announce we’re now a signatory to the Stand Alone Pledge, affirming our dedication to students who lack family support by ensuring they have help to thrive as part of our community.

Support available

By signing the Pledge, we’re committed to supporting those who are studying without the approval of a family network.

To support these students, we offer:

  • Financial Support: designated staff provide information, advice, and support. Those Student Finance England (or equivalent) define as estranged students are eligible to receive the full Durham Grant – currently £2,000 per year. The university also operates a hardship fund for cases of urgent financial difficulty.
  • Accommodation: University accommodation is available 365 days a year. Durham students are not required to provide a guarantor or pay a deposit for University accommodation. Our Students’ Union is also working on a guarantor scheme to support estranged students in private housing.
  • Mental Health & Wellbeing: The University recognises that estranged students may have particular mental health needs. Our Colleges provide a pastoral support network able to offer guidance, as well as signposting students to relevant services such as Disability Support or the Counselling Service. Academic Advisers, responsible for academic advice, are available in academic departments.
  • Outreach & Transition: estranged students are prioritised for the University’s two outreach programmes for local Year 12 students. Successful completion of these programme can lead to a guaranteed conditional offer, typically two grades below the standard offer.

We believe that anyone with the ability and desire to benefit from a Durham education should be able to do so, regardless of their background, but we know that students who lack a family network or support face special challenges that most other students don’t.

Durham Estranged Students Group

Late last year, our Student Union co-facilitated an ‘Estranged Students’ Solidarity Campaign week’ to raise awareness of family estrangement and secure support from our students.

The campaign culminated in the creation of the Durham Estranged Students Group, which aims to continue campaigning for support, raising awareness, and developing a network for our estranged students.

Any Durham student who may be estranged from their family and would like to know more about the support on offer can get in touch with Jordan Donohue via or 0191 334 9374.