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It's All About The Money: The Influence Of Family Estrangement, Accommodation Struggles and Homelessness On Student Success in UK Higher Education

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Finding, funding and fitting into student accommodation brings multiple and complex challenges for young people who are estranged from their family and cannot depend on their parents for emotional, material or financial support during their time in higher education. This paper draws on the experiences of 564 estranged students in UK higher education, aged 18–25, who have broken communicative contact with their biological or adoptive parents and who are not recognised as vulnerable by their local authority. It finds that a proportion of estranged students struggle with homelessness issues throughout the student life cycle. Furthermore, it finds typical student accommodation can be financially out of reach for estranged young people, exacerbated by expectations for students to go home during the summer break. Together these factors push estranged students into a life that is often detached from the community of their institution and their peers. Of particular concern is that such factors inhibit a focus on academic studies, with an impact on retention and student success. The paper concludes by outlining how key interventions from higher-education providers and government departments can maximise student success for estranged students, in order to inform policy and practice for those who lack family capital and the support of corporate parenting structures.
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Keywords: BELONGING; FAMILY ESTRANGEMENT; HIGHER EDUCATION; HOMELESSNESS; STUDENT SUCCESS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2018

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  • The journal is based on the belief that there are neglected links between research and theory, and policy and practice in the promotion of widening participation in post-compulsory education and lifelong learning. It aims to provide a forum for the development of theory, the addressing of policy questions and the dissemination of innovative practice in the field of widening participation and lifelong learning.
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