Estranged Students

What is an estranged student?


Recent research shows that not everyone knows what this means. You might describe yourself as homeless, you might be in financial difficulty because you’ve fallen out with your family due to abuse, or simply a clash of personalities and values, you might have been rejected by your family or community for coming out as LGBTQI+ and be sofa surfing, or there are many other reasons why students become estranged.

At West Lothian College, we believe that an estranged student is someone who no longer has contact with their parents or legal guardians due to a permanent breakdown in their relationship (isolated instances of contact will be considered on a case by case basis). This is the definition that the Scottish Government and Student Awards Agency Scotland use too.

We want to help everyone understand what estranged means, as otherwise, you could end up in difficult financial circumstances without access to money your family is given to support you. You might have nowhere to stay or just find suddenly being out on your own and organising yourself means completing your course is much more difficult.  We are also educating our staff to understand what this means too, so they are understanding of your situation.

Although these can be very difficult circumstances for you, we can help you gain financial independence and other practical support for living.  We can also help to arrange further support to enable you to have a positive learning experience and resolve any issues which might arise while you are a student.

We have a team of staff who support students with various needs. If you think you are an estranged student, the three people who you should contact initially are:

Helen Wilson, Student Support Officer at 

Lorna Jenkins, Student Support Manager at 

Janice Turner, Student Funds Officer at

We invite you to meet Helen, Lorna or Janice to discuss what being estranged means for you and what we can do to support you to have a good experience as a student. We can also work with lecturers to ensure they are aware of the additional responsibilities you have.

With your permission, we will help you to contact relevant agencies and West Lothian Council on making changes to existing arrangements, such as getting access to money provided to family on your behalf.

If you are estranged and thinking about coming to college, and would like to have a chat about what we can do to help you make the transition from what you’re doing now to being a student, please get in touch by emailing

The Scottish Government is currently considering the results of recent research on estranged students and is committed to improving their learning experience and college outcomes. 

In the meantime, speak to us to let us support you right now.