Kingston’s KU Cares programme offers critical support to standalone students


The Mohn Westlake Foundation is working in partnership with Kingston University to support two transformative programmes to enable more disadvantaged learners to thrive in Higher Education.

“I’m in no doubt that the support at Kingston, in particular KU Cares (but also Mental health and Money Teams), is what kept me on course. I’m not sure I’d have made it without them”J, Politics and international relations, L6

For more information about this project, visit: KU Cares:

Our first year of support has already made a powerful difference for disadvantaged students.

Standalone students

Kingston’s KU Cares programme offers critical support to standalone students (estranged from their families, with no parental/financial support or home) by providing them with a bursary and an assigned caseworker who supports them with the challenges they face in managing their finances, mental health, accommodation, isolation and family issues.  

For the first time this year, Kingston proactively asked enrolling students about family status, instead of only being able to cater to self-referrals. This year 58 standalone students are receiving support because of this wider approach, against 41 last year: this is an increase of over 40% and is shining a light on this little-known community of marginalised students.

Nationally recognised work with marginalised students:

  • KU Cares was commended at the NEON Awards for ‘Outstanding Initiative: Retention and Success.’
  • The KU Cares team and students were consulted on a set of government Guiding Principles for Universities to support marginalised students.
  • The team was invited to present the KU Cares programme model at HE fora, including Westminster briefings on Social Mobility and NEON’s Summer Symposium.

Some standalone stories:
Three final year students were referred to KU Cares after being left homeless (in a hostel, sleeping in their car, sleeping in a classroom) and unable to pay for accommodation as a result of family breakdown. All were supported and graduated this year as planned.

The programme has supported several students for whom cultural/religious conflict has led to a total parental relationship breakdown, in some instances where the students have fled the family home for fear of being forced to leave university and/or violence. All were kept safe and given access to appropriate wellbeing support, emergency accommodation and/or student support funds. All have remained on their course.

The impact of our partnership at a glance…

  • Our programme has enabled Kingston University to identify four times as many potential standalone students in need of support.
  • The retention rate of KU Cares students in 17/18 was 100% compared to 83.5% of all undergraduates

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