During Estranged Student Solidarity Week 2022 (21 – 15 Nov), the SUN hosted the Estranged Students CPD Conference. The conference was held as part of the Uni Connect Estranged Students Partnership and in collaboration with Stand Alone, the first UK charity to support estranged adults in their locality. We had an excellent turnout and were joined by approximately 100 attendees from across England who work in various capacities to support estranged students at college and progressing into higher education. We were lucky enough to hear from a fantastic range of speakers representing UCAS, Student Finance England, Go Higher West Yorkshire, and Stand Alone. In addition, we had Emma Platt-Lowe – Chair of the Uni Connect Estranged Students Partnership – provide our keynote speech and kick-start the conference by telling our attendees about how the Partnership came to be and some of their core aims.
Following the talks, we were joined by five wonderful student panellists from various UK universities, who spoke about their own experience of being an estranged student applying to university, the support that they had from their college during this process, and the support they receive from their current universities. Hearing directly from the young people was really valuable for attendees. They heard about what had helped the panellists, in addition to what they would like to see in the future. This can help to inform and shape future processes within both further and higher education to ensure they are more supportive and understood.
This conference marks the launch of a wider CPD offer, and resources that will support the Uni Connect Estranged Students Partnership’s aims to raise awareness of estrangement, the barriers estranged students face, and how we as practitioners can work to help overcome them. Thank you to all those who joined us on the day for making the conference a success, and for all of your insightful questions and comments!