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Letters home to parents of Uni students?

(206 Posts)
Butteredparsnip1ps Tue 04-Apr-17 14:41:03

Posting for traffic, and looking for perspective. AIBU is whether I have given DD the right advice.

DD1 is in first year of Uni and enjoying it. Likes the course, loved placement, works hard / plays hard. Today though, her group were subjected to an angry 20 minute rant about poor attendance and threatened with letters home to parents.

There are some ironies here. As DD said, what was the point of ranting at the people who had turned up, when those who were absent missed it? Also her group includes a number of mature students who have missed lectures due to childcare and family issues. Are they going to get letters sent home to their parents too?

Although DD is on top of her work, she was worried as she missed some sessions before Xmas and again at the end of January due to illness. She suspects she may have a letter sent home, and rang in a bit of a panic.

My slightly cynical opinion is that the course leaders have become aware of poor attendance overall and so the Tutors have had a verbal kicking that they have passed down to students.

FWIW DD is very driven and doesn't bunk off. If there were any issues as a result of her illness, it would be possible to ask the GP she saw to confirm it, and we would of course support her. My hunch actually is that the rant probably wasn't aimed people like her, but at habitual non-attendees.

But. She is an adult who is paying for her education, so frankly whether she turns up or not (and the consequences) are hers. Why on earth would a university send letters to parents? And what would happen to the mature students? Surely all students should be treated the same??

So AIBU, or just precious?

brasty Tue 04-Apr-17 14:42:16

I agree with you totally OP.

NeverTwerkNaked Tue 04-Apr-17 14:44:18

Yanbu!!

DesignedForLife Tue 04-Apr-17 14:44:24

YANBU. They are adults and responsible for their own behaviour. If they don't turn up they will fail. Sounds like the uni is desperately trying to get some to take it seriously.

Brighteyes27 Tue 04-Apr-17 14:44:34

If she is over 18 and on a Higher Education course no YANBU a University would not do that or be allowed to send letters home to her parents due to data protection.
Whoever has threatened that sounds like they have lost the plot.

BorpBorpBorp Tue 04-Apr-17 14:45:54

They can't send a letter home to parents if the students are adults, surely? I'm pretty sure it was a bullshitting scare tactic.

I work in a university, and we are pretty strict about attendance monitoring (mainly because if we weren't, the university could lose its tier 4 visa sponsor licence and not be able to take as many international students, which would be a massive loss of income). We don't send letters to parents.

PNGirl Tue 04-Apr-17 14:46:06

That's a ridiculous threat. I was 19 when I went to uni and 100 miles from home. What were mum and dad meant to do if I missed a lecture?

As it was my course made you sign in for each lecture and if you missed too many you failed that module.

theymademejoin Tue 04-Apr-17 14:47:08

I don't know what the story is in the UK, but where I live universities are prohibited by data protection law from discussing anything to do with a student with anyone other than the student unless they have permission.

Basically, it's a threat to scare the 1st years who have just come out of a system where their progress is discussed with their parents so they might actually believe it. The point of telling the students who are in attendance is the presumption that they will pass the message on to the absentee students.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 04-Apr-17 14:52:10

Letters home to parents, if that was uttered on 1st April I would have said ha April Fool's prank. I too would have told DD to ignore this. She won't get into trouble for having been ill.

Italwaysworksitselfout Tue 04-Apr-17 14:55:31

I'm on voluntary leave from uni due to pregnancy and am a mature student. In our uni if you have anymore than 2 unexplained absences then it is logged and a letter sent to your home address. It covers tutorials and seminars not lectures. The "sending a letter home to your parents" may be due to the fact there may be more younger students than mature and if you live south of the border then it is automatically assumed the parents are paying the fees. It sounds like more of a threat than anything and the tutor is sending a message

Pardonwhat Tue 04-Apr-17 14:57:04

Absolutely ridiculous. Pathetic behaviour.
I'd be complaining if I was your daughter. How demeaning!

harderandharder2breathe Tue 04-Apr-17 14:58:15

Yanbu

I expect it's an empty threat, since normally universities are (rightly) complaining about students parents wanting to discuss their darling child

SeekEveryEveryKnownHidingPlace Tue 04-Apr-17 15:00:30

Letters home? That sounds bizarre! I wonder if they are stretching the truth here because letters about poor attendance and engagement might be sent to the home address as well as the university address?

BorpBorpBorp Tue 04-Apr-17 15:00:33

It would be reasonable for your daughter to complain to the university about the threat, even if it is empty. Not everyone is on good terms with their parents, and the threat of a letter home could have serious mental health repercussions for some students.

Butteredparsnip1ps Tue 04-Apr-17 15:01:33

Thank You everyone, I hadn't considered the data protection aspect, but it's a good point.

It's an empty threat isn't it?

DrAbbyYates Tue 04-Apr-17 15:04:53

YANBU and it is ridiculous - but to give the university's perspective for a moment: I have several friends who are in academia teaching undergraduates, and they are astonished at the number of parents who contact them on their children's behalf to request deadline extensions or query their grades, etc etc. It's possible that your DD's university have experienced similar and think that invoking parental involvement is the way to get their students in line.

redjoker Tue 04-Apr-17 15:08:50

I worked for a uni for a bit, we were under strict instructions that all correspondence was to go to the student only and nothing was to be discussed with anyone else. Even to the point of parents calling the university to check on a child I wasn't able to confirm if they even attended the university.

The one time a mother did call turns out she was estranged and the student had a restraining order against her!

IHeartDodo Tue 04-Apr-17 15:10:05

As someone working in a University I can only say that attendance is a real problem! Especially when students miss lectures only to ask the lecturer for extra help and then give bad feedback when they don't get it! Alternatively they just do badly, which also makes us look bad!
Have a look in academic's corner and you'll see a lot of rants about this!
The annoying thing is that there's really nothign we can do - certainly at my Uni you need the student's permission to contact their parents (although I think in an emergency it'd be ok).

FatherJemimaRacktool Tue 04-Apr-17 15:10:30

I wonder if they are stretching the truth here because letters about poor attendance and engagement might be sent to the home address as well as the university address?

Most likely that the threat of sending letters to students' home addresses (as as university would have to do if they were sending letters like this over Easter), which would presumably have to be explained to parents if parents saw them, has been misunderstood by the students as 'letters to parents'.

Universities are not allowed to communicate with parents in this way, so very hard to imagine that anyone would say this to students unless they are a very inexperienced and slightly up themselves TA.

If this is actually what was said to them, the students should make a complaint and tell their student newspaper because it's totally unacceptable to threaten students with lies.

IHeartDodo Tue 04-Apr-17 15:10:38

cross post with redjoker!

MrsMeeseeks Tue 04-Apr-17 15:10:59

Ridiculous to try and treat university students as if they were children.

When I was doing my A-levels I was repeatedly asked for sick notes, etc, from my mum despite the fact that I didn't live with a parent or guardian. I explained this many times but no-one ever listened!

diddl Tue 04-Apr-17 15:11:41

What would they be expecting parents to do??!!

Sodomeyes Tue 04-Apr-17 15:13:14

I'm an academic.

The students who don't show up throughout the year and those that desperately try to book appointments with you three days before deadline day and get their arse in their hand when you have no free time to meet them. Some of them even go to heads of departments to complain about it hmm. They also tend to be the ones who are first to moan about the prices they have to pay and value for money.

When students arrive, they enter into a contract with the University that they will attend all compulsory sessions. So it's not a matter of them having paid their money so they can pick and choose what they go to. I think academia will become more like this (which will be terrible) but at the moment, there are expectations that students will attend some core classes.

When students don't attend it really fucks with the flow and dynamic of a classroom environment, which is not good for the students who do show up. If I'm told I'll have 20 students in a group, I plan work tasks for 20 students. If only 12 then show up, the task I've planned will fall flat on it's face and the students who did show up will be short-changed because the task I've planned wasn't really for a group of that size.

However, there's no way we'd send letters home. The contract is between the student and the University, parents are not involved. We cannot discuss our students with parents if they contact us and, similarly, we will not contact anyone about our students. It's an empty threat but I can completely understand that the academic in question is at the end of their tether and trying any way possible to remedy the situation.

There were 3 students at the last lecture of term that I gave in March out of a class of 45. Demoralising for me and shit for the other students

keeplooking Tue 04-Apr-17 15:14:59

I think Universities consider parents to be in the picture much more nowadays, than in my day, simply because of the increased input many parents have in the financing of their offspring's education. I doubt very much whether a letter would be sent to parents about attendance, though. Unpaid rent for accommodation, maybe!

I remember going through a period of poor attendance to a particular language class, where I got the work from a friend, then gave it to her to hand in when it was due, and asked her to return the marked work. I soon mended my ways, when after about the 3rd time of doing this, I received the marked work back, with a red- penned 'This is not a correspondence course!!' emblazoned across the top blush grin

Isawahatonce Tue 04-Apr-17 15:15:54

I'm relatively confident the university aren't allowed to send letters home to parents because of data protection. I was told in my first year that the university weren't allowed to tell my parents anything about me, not even whether I saw a student there so I shouldn't think letters home to parents about attendance (or anything) are allowed.

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