Oxford Brookes commits to Stand Alone Pledge for estranged students

Friday, 24 May 2019

Oxford Brookes commits to Stand Alone Pledge

Over 9,000 university students in the UK have no contact with their family and are therefore studying for a degree without traditional support networks at home.

A recent study by the charity Stand Alone found that 28% of students who are estranged or disowned from their family did not feel comfortable accessing support within their institution. 

By signing the Stand Alone Pledge we hope more students will feel confident in coming forward to access the help and support available to them at Oxford Brookes University.

Susan Mueller, Project Director at Stand Alone

Over the past year, Oxford Brookes University has delivered a comprehensive plan to further improve its existing support for estranged students, and formally committed to the Stand Alone Pledge this week.

In addition to enhancing its existing support services, estranged students who enrol at Oxford Brookes from September 2019 will receive a £2,000 bursary for each year of study that they are also receiving full student support from Student Finance England, subject to eligibility criteria. They are also eligible to apply for guaranteed 52-week accommodation at the University’s halls of residence and will receive free bedding and a kitchen pack if moving from supported housing.

Oxford Brookes has ensured that the University now has a dedicated welfare adviser for those who are estranged and they have actively engaged with students over the past year.

This is in addition to a wide range of services, including a team of student support coordinators for academic and pastoral support, staff in the Student Central advice team for practical help, the International Student Advice Team, financial support from the Financial Aid Fund and advice and support from the University’s Wellbeing services.

Teams from Oxford Brookes’ UK Recruitment & Partnerships department are actively communicating the message about support for estranged students through their extensive programme of school and college visits across the country, and through the University’s associate college partners.

This week it was also announced at an event at the House of Lords that Oxford Brookes will be one of eight institutions working on the development of a quality mark framework to improve the support for care experienced people in colleges and universities. It is hoped the framework will become the national standard for higher education support for care experienced students and will benefit thousands of students each year. Data from the Department for Education shows that just 6% of all care leavers between the ages of 19-21 were in higher education in 2018. 

Professor Anne-Marie Kilday, Pro Vice-Chancellor Student and Staff Experience, said: “Oxford Brookes is proud to have committed to the Stand Alone pledge. Staff from our Academic and Student Affairs team have led on a tremendous amount of work over the last year to further enhance the support available to our estranged students. The measures we have put in place have already made a real difference and from the upcoming academic year we will be offering a bursary which will further increase access for those wishing to study at Oxford Brookes. 

“We conduct a tremendous amount of outreach work at schools, colleges and sixth forms across the country to help burst the myths around perceived barriers to higher education. Through our commitments for estranged students as part of the Stand Alone Pledge and the work we’re doing to support care leavers, we are committed to ensuring that students can achieve their academic potential regardless of family background or circumstance.”

Susan Mueller, Project Director at Stand Alone, commented: “We are very pleased that Oxford Brookes University recognises the barriers that students who are estranged from family may face in accessing higher education and succeeding on their course. 

“Students are often assumed by default to have family support, and there is often an inbuilt structural need for students to fall back on the resources that family may supply, such as housing over the summer period and a place to celebrate Christmas. By signing the Stand Alone Pledge we hope more students will feel confident in coming forward to access the help and support available to them at Oxford Brookes University."

Further detail on the support Oxford Brookes offers estranged students is available on the University’s Wellbeing webpages.

Find out more on the Stand Alone Pledge on their dedicated website.