The latest briefing focuses on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on students who are not supported by their parents or wider family.
The Office for Students (OfS) has today released a briefing note on the different ways in which universities and colleges are supporting estranged students, those who have spent time in care and others who may be unable to depend on family support.
As the briefing note shows, there is a risk that the pandemic may compound the problems already faced by this student group in accessing and progressing in higher education, as well as creating new barriers not experienced by their peers. With the government identifying care experienced and estranged students as vulnerable to the impacts of coronavirus, the OfS has confirmed that student premium funding may be diverted to support their mental health and hardship needs.
The case studies featured in the briefing show how many universities and colleges have taken specific practical steps to support students without family support during the pandemic, including:
- offering personalised financial support in the form of hardship funds and graduate bursaries
- tailoring mental health and wellbeing support and providing a buddy system to mitigate the isolating effects of lockdown
- prioritising the provision of internet access, laptops and any other necessary course equipment for care experienced and estranged students.
The importance of addressing challenges faced by prospective students – whose access to information, advice and guidance to make informed choices for next year may have been affected by school closures – is also highlighted.
Today’s briefing note is the third in a series designed to share the approaches which universities and colleges have taken to support students during the pandemic. The series does not constitute regulatory advice but focuses on sharing ideas and responses to challenges faced by universities and colleges during the pandemic.