MORE than 100 university students across Bournemouth reported having no family to turn to as they prepared to support themselves through their studies last year, figures show.

As the coronavirus pandemic took hold across the UK, the majority of students followed government orders and returned to their families to seek out lockdown – but for some, there was no family home to go to.

And as higher education students prepare to begin a new term, a charity has warned that thousands will face the upcoming academic year without a family to provide financial or emotional support – many of whom may have experienced abuse or homelessness.

Figures published by the Student Loans Company show that at least 80 Bournemouth University students aged under 25 received financial assistance in the 2020-21 academic year due to being irreconcilably estranged from their parents following a relationship breakdown.

A further 42 applied for means-tested funding after leaving the care system.

The same figures show there were at least 19 Arts University Bournemouth (AUD) students receiving financial assistance in the 2020-21. A further eight applied for means-tested funding after leaving the care system.

Barriers for those students to enter and succeed in higher education are high, according to charity Stand Alone, which supports estranged adults.

CEO Becca Bland said: "These students most often have been rejected by family members for being LGBT+ or transitioning, have survived forced marriages or other abuses in their parental home.

"Many are coming to university from homeless backgrounds and may already live in hostel accommodation."

Dr Alex Blower, access and participation manager at AUB, said: “Earlier this year, our university became a signatory of the Stand Alone Pledge, which supports estranged students.

“There are many things that Higher Education Institutions can do to address various barriers to education, and AUB is committed to ensuring that we offer equity of educational opportunity to everyone.”

“AUB welcomes students from a diverse range of lived experiences and backgrounds and we offer a £2,000 bursary for students who are irreconcilably estranged from family.

“We can offer year-round halls of residence accommodation for students unable to return to their family home during summer vacation periods, and estranged students are provided with a named point of contact to facilitate and support their transition to university.”

A Bournemouth University spokesperson said: “We work hard to support all students, including those who are estranged, to get access to help they may require on coming to university, including support with documentation.

“Financial support is available for any student in need, and information can be found on our website and is generally income dependent, while our accommodation guarantee can be viewed online, with specific provision for estranged students.”