New Delhi: The University of Strathclyde has become the first university in Scotland to pledge its support for students who are estranged from their families.
The University is working with charity Stand Alone, to help remove barriers to higher education and academic success.
Building on its reputation for exemplary support for care leavers, Strathclyde is developing dedicated support for estranged students in key areas of need, including finance, accommodation, mental health and wellbeing.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “Since our foundation more than 200 years ago during the Enlightenment, Strathclyde has established a proud track record of removing barriers to higher education. We want to ensure ability – and not financial or social circumstance – determines participation.
“Today’s news underlines our commitment to ensuring those studying without the support of a family network are not held back. We want to ensure all students have an equal chance of academic success, and we are delighted to be the first University in Scotland to sign up to the Stand Alone pledge.”
Stand Alone has undertaken three years of research into the unique challenges and disadvantages that estranged students are required to overcome. Young people who are estranged from their families are likely to be under-represented within the student population, and those who do navigate the application process are more vulnerable to withdrawal from education and homelessness than other groups of students.
The Strathclyde programme will provide a single, named point of contact for estranged students and support will be provided throughout their studies.
Activities will be informed by the students themselves, as well as experience from the University’s wide range of widening participation initiatives, which include:
· The Engineering Academy, which helps students to move seamlessly from college to university
· The Children’s University, which enables children aged seven to 14 to widen their skills and interests, while providing a new and innovative route towards further and higher education
· Strathclyde Cares, a programme supporting care experienced students and applicants through advocacy, training, mentoring and informing policy
· Partnership in the MCR Pathways programme, which provides mentors to pupils who have experience of the care system
· Founding the Trans.Edu project, examining the support needs of transgender applicants, student and staff in universities and colleges across Scotland