Care Experienced Students, Estranged Students and Student Parents

Care experienced and care leavers 

We want to create a caring, supportive environment in which students who have had experience of care can thrive.  Support can include provision of financial assistance, accommodation, and mental health support.  If you are a care leaver or have had experience of care and have not yet informed the college, please contact the Dean of Welfare so we can ensure you are receiving all the support to which you are entitled.  

Information on the financial support available can be found here.  Student finance England can process applications for financial support to those who are care leavers.   

Do I qualify as a care leaver?

If you were looked after by a local authority throughout any three month period ending on or after the date on which you turned 16, and before the first day of the first academic year of your course. A letter from a social worker or support worker can be used as confirmation that you are a care leaver and your period in care.

If you have been given a residency order that expires on your sixteenth birthday, you must also send in evidence that you were in local authority care for three months after your sixteenth birthday to be considered as a care leaver. If you have been in care, and have contact with your parents in the years before leaving for University, you can be assessed on your parents’ income and won’t be considered independent.

What happens if I don’t fit this definition?

If you were in care for less than three months after your sixteenth birthday, or for a period of time before your sixteenth birthday, but don’t have a relationship with your parents, you should apply for independent status using the ‘estranged from parents’ route. You can use a reference from your social worker to explain your time in care and their knowledge of your subsequent estrangement.  Information about family estrangement is further down this page. 

What happens if it’s not practical to contact my parents?

If it is not practical to contact your parents for details of their income, you may be awarded independent status. This is typically awarded to refugees, who may not know the location of their parents or for students who have parents living in countries where it is too dangerous for you to contact them for details of their income. However, if your parent has a significant mental health problem or health issue that would make it impractical or dangerous for you to contact them, or would put them in danger, you should tell Student Finance when you send your form. They will inform you what to do next and what you will need to supply to support your application.

Estranged Students

We want to create a caring, supportive environment in which students who are estranged from their families, who are studying without the support or approval of a family network, can thrive.  Oxford University has taken the Stand Alone Pledge to support students who are estranged from their families through provision of financial assistance, accommodation, and mental health support.  

If you are estranged from your family and have yet to inform college, please contact the Dean of Welfare so we can ensure you are receiving all the support to which you are entitled.  

Information on the financial support available can be found here

Standalone has a guide for students applying for independent status.  You can apply for independent status (and financial support) if your circumstances meet one or more of the following criteria:

If you are irreconcilably estranged from both of your biological or adoptive parents or only living parent, you can ask to be assessed as an independent student and assessed on your own household income. You are eligible to be considered for independence on the basis of being estranged from your parents if you have not had verbal or written contact with both of your biological, adoptive parents or your only living parent for a significant period of time and your estrangement is irreconcilable.

If you have supported yourself financially for a total of thirty six months prior to the start of your course, you can apply to be assessed as an independent student on the grounds of self-support. These months do not have to be consecutive, but you must show you have been earning a sufficient amount to be financially independent.

If you have been in local authority care for at least three months after your sixteenth birthday, and are irreconcilably estranged from your parents, you are entitled to be considered as a care leaver and awarded independent status.

If you don’t know the location of your parents, or they are in a country where it is considered dangerous for you to contact them, you may be awarded independent status. If your parent has a significant mental health problem or health issue that would make it impractical or dangerous for you to contact them, you may also be awarded independent status on these grounds.

If you are 25 years old on the first day of the academic year; you are married or in a civil partnership or have been married or in a civil partnership in the past but are now separated; you have a child or dependent or both of your biological or adoptive parents are deceased.

Student Parents

Whether you already have a child or are about to become a parent, a wealth of services are available to support you in Oxford – from the University and Oxford Student Union to the County Council that can be found here.