Coming to University is an exciting and daunting time for any student and perhaps especially so if you do not have the support of a family. If you are a care experienced or an estranged student (who no longer has any contact with your parents or guardians) and are considering coming to Lady Margaret Hall there are additional sources of support available to you through the University and at LMH.
StandAlone is a charity set up to support people who are estranged from their family or children. They have produced a guide for students who are applying for independent status from Student Finance England and Wales. More information is available on their website.
Oxford University has signed the Standalone Pledge and we are committed to supporting students who are studying without the support and/or approval of their families. We aim to ensure that you receive the help you need in order to have a successful university experience.
This support comes both in terms of financial and other forms of support.
Students from low income backgrounds are eligible for a range of University funding, including Crankstart Scholarships and a Care Experienced Bursaries. Further information about these and other forms of financial support from the University can be found here.
In College we have a dedicated Student Finance Manager who can help you to identify what sources of funding you might be eligible to receive, and can work confidentially with you in advance of arrival and while you are on course to make relevant applications. She can also help with budgeting and planning so that your money works for you during your time at LMH.
For students arriving for the first time and struggling to get together household items and other small necessities of College life there is a College fund that might be able to help.
In addition there are both College and university funds that students can apply for during their time at LMH if they find themselves in financial need.
For Care Experienced and estranged students accommodation is the number one source of concern and here at LMH we guarantee availability of accommodation all year round to care experienced and estranged students, should you want it. Application can be made at the start of the academic year for the whole of the year, and if the accommodation is not needed for a particular vacation it can be cancelled without cost at any point up till 6th week of the preceding term.
The Care Leaver/Estranged Student Bursary exists to assist students with out-of-term costs and additional funds can be applied for. Each student is treated as an individual and their needs are confidentially and fairly assessed.
Accommodation in College is detailed here and the costs here. For students with financial difficulties there are College and university funds to help and the Student Finance Manger can help with applications and advice.
Dedicated Single Point of Contact
The College has a single point of contact for all estranged and care experienced students who can direct students to sources of support and act as an advocate and guide for them within the College. For those students whose stories are difficult the advocate can represent them so that they do not have to repeat those stories endlessly to different audiences.
An initial contact will take place before the start of the first term of a student here at LMH and will explore with the student any immediate concerns and barriers to participation, with the offer of some financial assistance if necessary to ensure the student has the items usually brought to site by students – kettles, and so on.
Welfare and Mental Health
All Oxford students have access to the University Counselling service which offers a non-judgemental and free counselling service. Students are encouraged to register with the College GP and we have our own College nurse who is on site every day during full term.
In addition we have a strong welfare team that includes our Head of Wellbeing, Junior Welfare Deans, a Chaplain, and Peer Supporters (trained and supervised students) who can offer support and encouragement to all students. The team can assist students with any welfare issues that may be affecting their time at LMH, and are also able to signpost students to specialist services both within and outside the University if appropriate.
Your Personal Tutor, other tutors and the Senior Tutor are readily available to support you with any academic-related matters.
If you are a student estranged from your family, or if you are a care leaver, we would encourage you to contact us so that we can arrange a conversation about how we can help you to have the best experience possible whilst studying with us. Whether you want help to access relevant services, or you want to check in with us regularly to let us know how you are getting on, or you just want to know that we are here in times of crisis, we look forward to hearing from you.