The academic calendar is designed around an assumption that students go home for the major holidays – but what if you don’t have a home to go back to? That’s the situation that many estranged students find themselves in every Christmas, summer and Easter, bringing the emotional challenge of feeling left behind and alone, as well as significant practical challenges such as the very real threat of homelessness over the long summer months.
Universities and landlords are becoming conscious of the need for accommodation all year round, but of course this comes at a price. It can be hard enough to find the money during normal study times, but transitions such as moving from flat to flat at the end of tenancies and particularly at the end of a course can be hugely difficult. Once you graduate, there’s a cliff-edge in terms of support -you no longer have the safety net of university, there is no more student finance and you don’t have anywhere to live.
For people in this situation, graduate outcomes can be relatively poor; you need money to live so you take the first job you can keeps you afloat. It’s likely this isn’t going to be the job you studied for and once you’re in that scenario the opportunity and capacity to pursue a graduate role or career becomes significantly harder.
The Foundation’s impact, beyond the safety, security and consistency of a home over 3 years extends right the way through the summer following graduation up to the beginning of the next academic year; that’s an additional 3 months’ in our accommodation with all bills covered. Scholars also have the opportunity to spend those 3 months in a different location to where the studied to support personal development and career opportunities or to maintain critical relationships from their previous life. We do the most we can within the boundaries we have to create breathing and saving space to give our scholars the chance to pursue the opportunities available to them.
3 months = 1 month pay in arrears, 1 month rent deposit, 1 month rent upfront.
Everything stops for most students as soon as the academic year ends – but the loss of that relationship with their university support services can be devastating for estranged students. Can universities extend their relationship with estranged students and think creatively about the graduation summer to give their departed students the best chance of success?