University of Southampton Signs up to Stand Alone Pledge

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Southampton University has become the 49th Higher Education institution to sign up to the Stand Alone pledge to estranged students.

A letter addressed from Vice-President of Education, Professor Alex Neill, declared ‘the commitment’ of the University to the pledge. Mr Neill admitted the challenges faced by estranged students, before asserting how the University can provide support:

We acknowledge the difficulties and challenges estranged students face with their finances, accommodation and mental health compared to their peers who are fortunate enough to have a safe and stable family safety net behind them. As a result, we have created a bespoke toolkit of support by offering a dedicated point of contact through both the University’s Student Engagement team and the Students’ Union Advice Centre to collegially guide and assist them from their pre-arrival through to successful completion of their course.

The letter goes into detail about the various ways estranged students are supported and can seek support at the University, before concluding:

The University of Southampton is proud to add our name to the Stand Alone Pledge and will strive to
continually improve and adapt the provision we offer to our estranged students by giving them the best
possible chance to succeed, irrespective of their background.

Some of the possible methods of support the University offers to estranged students which Mr Neill cites, include:

  • A bursary of £2,000 per year for under 25 year old undergraduates and postgraduates
    for their first year of study.
  • A graduation pack covering the cost of robe hire, photograph pack and a ticket to the
    Graduation Ball.
  • Guaranteed access to 365 days of accommodation in halls of residence.
  •  Signposting to the support available through Enabling Services, who offer daily drop-in
    sessions with practitioners, one-to-one counselling appointments, mindfulness and mental
    health workshops, as well as academic skills support.
  • Estranged students interested in studying at Southampton are
    encouraged to apply to the Access to Southampton programme in Year 12 or the first year
    of their A-Level studies. The programme includes a residential summer school and
    additional support with the transition to University.

VP Welfare, Isabella Camilleri, commenting on the news to Wessex Scene, said:

I’m really happy to see that the University has committed to a formalised support offer for our estranged students. Our Students’ Union Advice Centre has worked in partnership with the University to support estranged students for many years, from combatting challenges in finances to mental health…  If you would like some more information on the support we offer to estranged students, please contact our Advice Centre on 023 8059 2085 or by email at advice@susu.org.

The Stand Alone pledge was launched by Universities UK in October 2016. Stand Alone’s website says following an appropriate university representative committing to the pledge, a university will work across a two-year period to ‘creating the right environment and conditions for estranged students to complete their course by improving support mechanisms in our four key areas’. These four areas are ‘Finance’‘Accommodation’‘Mental Health’ and ‘Outreach’.

According to the Stand Alone website, the University of Southampton has reported that it currently has 49 estranged students.

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Editor 2018-19 | International Editor 2017/18. Final year Modern History and Politics student from Bedford. Drinks far too much tea for his own good.

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