In this special guest blog, Professor Linda Drew outlines why Ravensbourne is making the Stand Alone Pledge, in support of estranged students. 

Ravensbourne makes a strong statement about its values, which makes us distinct in the HE sector. Ravensbourne’s activities are founded on three core values:-

Be creative
We provide a provocative, dynamic learning environment where students are challenged to become visionary professionals of the future. Working collaboratively and purposefully, we approach our endeavours with a mind-set that is open and receptive to challenge. We empower our staff and students not just to imagine, but also to create, the future.

Be integrated with industry
We value a rich and sustained engagement with our industry partners. This drives our practice-based approach to learning and teaching, research and knowledge exchange. We support creative leadership and innovation through partnerships, conversations and connections with industry. These reflect the professional and collaborative nature of our staff and the employability of our students.

Be inclusive
We take pride in a culture that anticipates, supports and celebrates equality of opportunity. Reflecting the diversity of our local community, we are proactive and holistic in our approach to promoting social mobility, internationalisation,  and inclusion, enabling change beyond Ravensbourne, to the socio-economic profile of practitioners in the creative industries.

We’re small, just over 2,500 students (>2,100 HE). We wanted to be part of the Pledge because at Ravensbourne we demonstrate our value to be inclusive by having a strong tradition of commitment to WP and Access and as a result, aim to ensure all students regardless of circumstances do not experience a lack of familial support as a barrier to learning.

Within our specific industry sectors, there are a disproportionately high number of estranged students and we are the first institution of our kind nationally to advocate by joining the Stand Alone Pledge.

The benefits to our students are reflected in the package we have put together to practically support estranged students. This includes (in addition to what support Student Services already offers), enhanced financial support through a named bursary, a dedicated named point of contact and assistance with accommodation including during the summer period.

Other HEI’s can learn from our experience, as estranged students are predicted to become one of the fastest groups of vulnerable learners requiring targeted support. This has also been recognised by OFFA, SLC and UCAS who all support the research of StandAlone and as a result, have altered their policies and procedures to better represent the needs of estranged students.

We would be happy to share our developing experience of our specific work with estranged students. If other GuildHE members wanted to learn more, please contact Anita Bailey (Finance Support and Accommodation Coordinator):

The Stand Alone Pledge is a commitment to support  young people studying without the support and approval of a family network. More information on the Pledge can be found here.