Underrepresented groups and specific communities
Our diverse student population means our students may have varying or specific needs. The guidance below can help you to support them in navigating their particular situation.
An asylum seeker is a person who has left their home country to seek refuge and whose claim to stay in the UK has not yet been assessed by the Home Office. Therefore, the term ‘asylum seeker’ encompasses a very heterogeneous group of people who come from different backgrounds and have had very different experiences. Meaningful participation in higher education can be a key step towards re-establishing the sense of security and stability that was lost when fleeing.
Given that they are usually not entitled to work, many asylum seekers live in poverty. To facilitate asylum seekers’ participation in higher education, the University offers five Article 26 Scholarships which provide asylum seeker students with full tuition costs, a living cost bursary and free accommodation. Unfortunately asylum seekers do not qualify for financial support from Student Finance. However, the University offers a tuition fee concession to asylum seeker which means that they pay home fees even though they are classed as international students. For further information please see the following factsheet.
Asylum seekers have often experienced significant psychological trauma due to conflict, war, or persecution which forced them to leave their home country in the first place. Furthermore, their mental health and wellbeing might be affected by fear of being deported as well as concern about loved ones left behind in an unsafe country. The University and local/national organisations offer a range of support services to improve asylum seeker students’ mental health and overall wellbeing as well as reduce the cultural shock they experience by suddenly being in a foreign country out of necessity. Please see the following document for an overview of the resources that are available.
The University of Manchester is committed to creating an environment where diversity is celebrated and everyone is treated fairly and provided with equal opportunities, regardless of their ethnic origin. Unfortunately, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students are still 13% less likely to gain a 1st or a 2.1 degree classification than their White counterparts. The attainment gap varies across ethnic groups with Black students having the largest attainment gap and being 28% less likely to get a good degree classification than White students.
Reasons underlying the BAME attainment gap include a weak sense of belonging due to, for example, cultural exclusion from Students’ Union societies as well as a lack of cultural understanding in some staff and BAME role models at the University. The University’s is trying to reduce the attainment gap through a widening participation strategy. For further information please see the following report. Furthermore, on this website you can navigate the data produced by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team to see how our University compares to other universities.
The Students' Union BAME campaign aims to empower BAME students and to educate all students on the issues that surround BAME students. Students can also become Diversity and Inclusion Student Ambassadors to promote race and social equality.
Additionally, the Careers Service offer advice and external resources for BAME students seeking employment and Manchester Gold Mentoring, a programme that assigns mentors to students, has a specific strand for BAME students so that they can find BAME role models.
If students experience hate crime, micro-aggressions or other forms of harassment or discrimination, they should contact the University’s Report and Support team to report it anonymously or get support from an advisor as well as the Counselling Service.
For guidance on supporting BAME students during the COVID-19 crisis, please see this guide.
A care leaver is a young person (16-17) who was in local authority care (including but not limited to public care, foster care, semi-independent living or residential care homes) when coming to university and has been in care for a period of 13 weeks or more spanning their 16th birthday. A care experienced student, on the other hand, is a young person who has spent any amount of time in care, but had returned to their parent(s) care by the time they applied to university. However, to be eligible for the Undergraduate Access Scholarship a care experienced student has to have spent 3 months or more in care after turning 10.
When coming to university, students from a care background are likely to face particular challenges, such as coping with little or no family support, struggling financially or having difficulties finding flexible year-round accommodation. Christmas and the summer holidays can be particularly difficult times. The local authorities do offer a range of support to care leavers although there can be quite a lot of variation between them.
The University of Manchester is committed to widening participation and aims to support care experienced students/care leavers throughout their studies. When applying to the University, care experienced students are given a named support contact who can provide one-to-one support and advice. Please see the following to find out more about financial, housing, emotional and academic support offered at the University. Most of these services give priority to students from a care background. It may also be useful to encourage students to use the other resources that the University offers.
For pre-entry care experienced students the named contact is Sophie Flieshman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and for current students the contacts are Hannah Armstrong and Ailsa Skelly (email@example.com).
Although many students choose to live in halls or private accommodation away from their family, more and more students choose to live at home and/or commute whilst studying. Although living at home and commuting often co-occur, one does not necessarily imply the other: students may live at home and not have to commute or live independently but have to commute to university. Reasons why students may choose to live at home and/or commute to university include: personal preference, receiving support from family, saving money, cultural expectations, and parental or caring responsibilities.
While living at home/commuter students have high aspirations to achieve a good degree and secure a graduate job, they have lower rates of continuation, academic achievement and graduate employment. This poses a significant challenge for higher education providers that have high numbers of living at home/commuter students, as poorer outcomes are detrimental to students, and have negative consequences for institutions.
Given that living at home/commuter students are more likely to be first-in-family students, come from low-income households or have an ethnic minority background, there can be a host of reasons/factors affecting lower attainment. However, commuting poses particular challenges such as having less time due to a long journey and family commitments which often results in low student engagement and social isolation. Even though, low student engagement may seem like a marginal problem in comparison to low academic achievement, interaction with peers and engagement with activities can provide valuable knowledge for future success.
It is helpful to encourage students to fully participate in their student life with us, and the Students’ Union. The Students' Union has developed a programme of support for students who live at home/commute including lots of information about transport options. For further information visit their website or view the following infographic. The Student Support website also has some helpful information for commuter students.
The University has particular legal responsibilities around disability. These means that if a student discloses a disability to you, or if you become aware that they might have a disability, you must offer them a referral to the Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS).
Students who have declared a disability will be given a support plan, and each school has a disability coordinator who is the main link between you and DASS.
DASS provide guidance for staff supporting disabled students and have also produced the below documents regarding mitigating circumstances and automatic extensions:
A student is considered independent if before or during university they become irreconcilably estranged from both their biological or adoptive parents, or only living parent. If a student is considered independent their parental household income is not included in the financial assessment undertaken by the Student Loans Company (SLC) which means that they are likely to be eligible for the maximum maintenance loan. For the 20/21 academic year, estranged students are eligible for the Undergraduate Access Scholarship if they have been assessed as independent and under 25 by SLC.
Reasons behind family alienation commonly include abuse, in particular emotional abuse, honour based violence, forced marriage or family rejection of LGBTQ+ children. When coming to university, estranged students are likely to face particular challenges, such as coping with no family support, struggling financially or having difficulties finding flexible year-round accommodation. Christmas and the summer holidays can be particularly difficult times, both financially and emotionally. Furthermore, providing proof of estrangement can be a long and difficult process.
The University of Manchester is committed to widening participation and aims to support estranged students throughout their studies. Since UCAS is not going to have the option to indicate estrangement until 2021, the University relies on the SLC assessment of estrangement to identify these students. If a student chooses to disclose that they are estranged to you, it is key to signpost them to the resources and named contacts (see below) available to them, as not all estranged students can be identified via SLC. Please see the following to find out more about financial, housing, emotional and academic support offered at the University. It may also be useful to encourage students to use the other resources that the University offers.
Furthermore, if they are facing difficulties, students should be encouraged to contact their school-specific student support contact and make them aware of their circumstances as well as the charity StandAlone which offers a variety of resources for estranged students.
In line with our provision for care experienced students, the University has named contacts for estranged students. For pre-entry students the named contact is Sophie Flieshman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and for current students the contacts are Hannah Armstrong and Ailsa Skelly (email@example.com). Linking estranged students with their named contacts will ensure they have access to the Undergraduate Access Scholarship and wider support package.
To be added
International students may sometimes face specific challenges related to their immigration and visa status. While we can all signpost students to information related to visas, only a small number of staff at the University are qualified to offer advice and guidance.
The immigration and visa page on the student support website has comprehensive, up-to-date visa information for international students, and contact information for more complex queries.
The University of Manchester is committed to creating an environment where diversity is celebrated and everyone is treated fairly, regardless of gender, gender identity, disability, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marital or transgender status, age, or nationality. For more information, please visit:
The Students' Union's official LGBTQ society aims to support all those that identify under the LGBTQ+ spectrum - as well as allies.
The Counselling and Mental Health Services can offer support for LGBTQ students who may be struggling with issues such as coming out to oneself and to others and additional support for LGBTQ+ students is also available
Furthermore, the Careers Service offer advice and external resources for LGBTQ students seeking employment.
There are specific resources for trans and gender-diverse students below.
You may need to support students who become pregnant while they are studying and ask to interrupt their studies, or who are already parents or carers and face challenges combining these responsibilities with their studies.
The University has a policy relating to pregnancy, and there are lots of resources online that might be helpful for your student. As a first step, if your student is not already registered with a GP, they can find their nearest surgery on the NHS website.
For students who are parents or carers, there are some resources on the Students Union website that your student might find useful plus they also run a parents and carers network. There are also additional resources for students with caring responsibilites on the Student Support Website. It might be helpful to think about scheduling appointments or events to be inclusive of those with caring responsibilities.
The University recognises that while postgraduate researchers (PGRs) are not immune from the many issues that can affect all students, PGRs are unique in their experience of university and life more generally. Completing a research programme is different to any kind of study or any previous employment, and it brings unique challenges as well as opportunities.
PGR Life signposts to support and resources that takes into account the distinct experience postgraduate researchers have - whether its support on issues that could affect any student, or on something particular to the degree programme.
Studying for a demanding degree at our University in addition to training 20+ hours per week is challenging. The University supports student (dual career) athletes by offering elite sports scholarships centred on enabling sport scholars to achieve their potential in both their academic studies and sport.
There is a wide range of support in place to helping dual career athletes juggle balancing these commitments or, when possible, accommodate exam timetables so that they do not clash with competition schedules.
For information on support available or to verify the status of a dual career athlete if you receive a mitigating circumstance query please contact Jonathan Kantor (UoM Sport) email: firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone: 0161 2754961.
For further insight into the commitment involved for student athletes and the support the University has provided, please refer to the following stories: Rosie Bancroft; Tadgh and Cian Hickey; Amy Carter; Naomi Ogbeta; Peter Speight.
Trans is an umbrella term encompassing all those who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth, including but not limited to those who are transgender, genderqueer, agender and non-binary.
There are many nuances of gender expression and identity, and there is University guidance on how to support students going through transition, including practical changes of name and gender marker on student systems, many of which can be undertaken without official documentation.
This page is a work in progress so if there is an underrepresented group or specific student community not mentioned here please let us know. Additionally, if you’re aware of resources we can share, please email email@example.com so we can continue to grow the list of resources to support our students.