Estranged students

An estranged student is defined as 'someone who no longer has the support of their family due to a breakdown in their relationship which has led to ceased contact. This might mean biological or adoptive parents or wider family members who have been responsible for supporting a student in the past'. 

If you are unsure if this applies to you just ask and we can help you.  

Estranged students are under-represented in education and can sometimes struggle to manage their life and studies. We work closely with estranged students at every stage including advice on the best route for you to get into university and working with those who might not think university is for them.

Tracey Kerr, our Widening Participation Manager, is the named point of contact for estranged students up to and including the transition to university –

If you are applying to the University please get in touch with Emilie to disclose your circumstances and find out how we can help you.  

Here is the support we can offer pre-enrolment:

  • Applying to the University - we realise that it can be difficult for estranged students to get the entry qualifications needed, which is why we include estranged students in our Fair Access Policy during the admissions process. Please make sure you get in touch to tell use your circumstances. This will allow us to make you an adjusted, or contextual, offer and contact you about the support you are entitled to
  • How to get into the University – if you are not sure if you are studying the right courses, or wondering what courses to choose, we can help you figure out the right route for you 
  • We have put together guidance to help students complete your UCAS application. UCAS also provides dedicated advice for estranged students who are applying to university.
  • Help for advisers – if you think we can help with your work, or if you are working with someone who you think we can help, let us know and we will help in any way we can 
  • Accommodation – the university will guarantee year-round accommodation to any care experienced students who need it. There is more information on our accommodation pages, and you can email our accommodation team – – for more details. 

Once you are a University student, or if you are supporting a new or current University student, Emma Smail in our Wellbeing team can help you – There is more information on our Student Support pages for estranged students

We work with Standalone, the charity supporting estranged students at university, and are pleased to say we have signed the Stand Alone Pledge. We will continually improve the support for current and future Heriot-Watt students who experience estrangement at any time of their University experience.