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Supporting estranged students in HE

How can GHWY encourage and support our partners to reach out to estranged students, and to train their staff to be better equipped to understand and respond to unique issues faced by this group?

These and related topics were explored in the third in a series of good practice sharing events that was held at the University of Leeds on 10 June 2019.

26 delegates from across the partnership attended the event, which also welcomed keynote speaker Susan Mueller (Project Director of Stand Alone – a national charity that supports adults who are estranged from their family).

The event started with an overview of Stand Alone, some national statistics and trends around estrangement, and the exploration of unique issues faced by prospective and current estranged students in Higher Education.

Delegates were encouraged to share good practice around estrangement from their respective institutions and to participate in the development of the Stand Alone pledge – a public commitment by an institution to support students who are studying without the support or approval of a family network.

They were joined by three current estranged students from the University of Leeds, which adopted the Stand Alone Pledge last year.

The students helped GHWY staff facilitate the event, encouraging debate and discussion around case studies. They also participated in a Q&A panel, fielding a range of questions from delegates. The students were keen to acknowledge the opportunity to get their voices heard by colleagues from across the partnership working in widening participation and outreach, and beyond – including students’ unions.

The delegates fed back that this element of the event was a particular highlight. One person commented: “feedback from the panel will enable us to provide targeted support to estranged students”. Another stated: “very hard to get student input so having opportunity to their voice and opinions directly was particularly valuable”.

73% of the delegates returned evaluation forms – all of them agreeing that they felt motivated to capitalise on emerging good practice across the partnership.