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As a parent, do you feel your DC's Uni "should" communicate with you?

(395 Posts)
UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 26-Jun-13 19:20:45

A general question really, I work for a uni and we regularly get complaints from parents that we should have told them stuff.

But, the student is an adult and the contract is between the student and the university, even if parents are paying the fees/living allowance.

In some cases we would be breaking confidentiality by informing parents (e.g. Health issues), in others, I just think it's odd that parents get involved (e.g. student not picked for sports team).

Would appreciate some views/experiences smile

Numberlock Wed 26-Jun-13 20:41:50

Why would you pay the £9K tuition fees up front though Tincle?

Lilymaid Wed 26-Jun-13 20:41:57

We've only been in contact with university when we contacted its welfare officer to be aware of DS2's serious illness which might have resulted in DS2 having to abandon his studies for a few months. As DS2 was lying in hospital at the time, I don't think that was over parenting. authorities then knew of situation and were able to discuss options with DS2

allnewtaketwo Wed 26-Jun-13 20:42:54

I think that's a rocky road though. If you're prepared to pay, surely it's not on a performance basis. I can sort of see what you mean about not turning up at all, but where do you draw the line? Say you think they can achieve a first but they're getting average 2:2. Do you feel more of a right to challenge them because youre paying?

redrubyshoes Wed 26-Jun-13 20:45:03


Your child is wasting YOUR money. He is an adult and accountable to YOU and himself and not the college or university.

Shallishanti Wed 26-Jun-13 20:50:08

really, though, your child has chosen to go to university and should take responsibility for fees, that's why we have loans
then they will appreciate what they are paying for and make sure they get the best out of it
OP, I have had 3 DCs at uni and would not dream of pestering like you describe. I do wonder if it is parents who are paying who feel entitled to do this?

hernow Wed 26-Jun-13 20:53:53

Gosh RedRubyShoes hope you manage to listen to your students better than you just did the OP!

Back to the OP - I would class myself as a parent who makes a big effort to let her DC make their own decisions and it never occurred to me that I could possibly ring the uni up - am shocked and surprised to hear it goes on. I guess some take the attitude that they are still paying for their DC/adult but even then I would expect and hope DC/adult would learn to keep communication going and when they do not I would worry but then I would worry even if they managed to tell me everything as that's just me. Poor students whose parents ring up the uni!!

Numberlock Wed 26-Jun-13 20:54:05

Why would you even pay the fees in advance though given that they only re-pay when they start to work, ie between 3 and 6 years later depending on the course?

Was that a stealth boast?

morethanpotatoprints Wed 26-Jun-13 20:55:10


If your dc ruined his education it would have nothing to do with you, whether you had paid or not. Parents aren't expected to pay fees, nor do they enter into any contract with the Uni. The grown up student does, in their own right.

AgentProvocateur Wed 26-Jun-13 20:56:52

God, no. I'd feel I'd failed as a parent if I was still helicoptering my adult children.

DramaAlpaca Wed 26-Jun-13 20:57:26

My BIL is a lecturer & head of department at a university & he regularly gets parents contacting him to ask about their student offspring.

There have been occasions when the student they are calling about has in fact dropped out but has neglected to tell their parents, which puts BlL in a rather difficult position as of course he is unable to tell them anything due to confidentiality.

He also gets calls from "helicopter parents" who are unhappy about their offspring's results and are calling the university to complain!

creamteas Wed 26-Jun-13 21:00:26

As a personal tutor I deal with a huge range of issues as you can imagine, but we have excellent support systems on campus and in the vast majority of cases, there is adequate support regardless of what the family knows.

We have quite clear guidance about when we can break confidentiality and this is when we believe that the student is at serious risk of harm, but often this means calling external support (like the mental health crisis team) rather than family.

This is because we can't be sure that involving the family would actually support the student anyway. I have had cases where parents have refused to sign student loan forms so as to try and force their children off their chosen degree courses. We can't know what the situation is like at home.

I also have had emails and phone calls from parents demanding information, and the numbers of parents on open days is getting ridiculous. Sometimes we even get parents without the potential applicants hmm.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 26-Jun-13 21:02:32

Yes DramaAlpaca (great name) - there are students who drop out / take a gap and neglect to tell the parents. The university doesn't inform the parents in this case.

I just wondered if all parents knew this.

The increased fees does seem to have gotten parents involved more.

I have heard of parents going to careers fairs with their children and chat to the company reps confused

Floralnomad Wed 26-Jun-13 21:02:53

My son has just finished his 2nd year at uni and I only ring them once a year to pay the bill , I wouldn't dream of contacting them for any other reason . numberlock some of us pay because we want our offspring to start their working lives debt free .

NedZeppelin Wed 26-Jun-13 21:04:37

We sometimes get parents wanting to come into admissions interviews with their darlings..

5madthings Wed 26-Jun-13 21:08:39

God no they are adults, my parents had no contact with the uni when I was there.

When I went for interview ,y dad dropped me off and then he went and wandered around campus reminiscing as he and been there himself for a short ou course. Then we met back up when it was time to go home, at no point did he meet anybody official and talk to them.

Christ I had a baby when I was at uni aged 19, I was a parent myself I certainly didnt have my parents phoning the uni up to see how i was getting on.

rhetorician Wed 26-Jun-13 21:19:19

Also university lecturer, but not in UK. Tradition here was for parents to get involved, leading to some quite hilarious examples of fibbing to mum and dad. More seriously, I wouldn't communicate with a parent without the student's permission. Where there are serious problems it is not always in the best interest of the student to refer them back to the people who caused them difficulty in the first place. If the student expressly chooses to involve the parent, bring them to meetings etc, then I don't have a problem with that. I don't like parents to interfere in academic judgments or decisions, not because I think I am infallible grin but because I don't think it is fair to students who don't have parents who are able or willing to advocate for them in this way.

cantreachmytoes Wed 26-Jun-13 21:24:50

Another saying no way!

Can't (but do) believe this happens! PFB at ages 17-22ish? Utterly incredible.

The obvious answer to the parents OP refers to is that if they'd any confidence in the job they'd been doing themselves for the past 17-22ish years, they'd just let their adult child get on with things!

LondonBus Wed 26-Jun-13 21:28:19

No, I wouldn't want to know, but neither would I pay tuition fees up front....

GoldenGreen Wed 26-Jun-13 21:35:53

Only in exceptional circs - if I had a severe mental breakdown at work, for example, I am sure my employer would be getting in touch, or at least organising for health professionals to get in touch with my next of kin to let them know I needed help - would expect the same for a student, if the university authorities knew something was very wrong. Otherwise no way.

Annunziata Wed 26-Jun-13 21:37:43

Barring urgent health problems, absolutely not.

Numberlock Wed 26-Jun-13 21:41:16

numberlock some of us pay because we want our offspring to start their working lives debt free

But why do you pay upfront?

Corygal Wed 26-Jun-13 21:45:17

Of course not - would you expect an employer to ring the parents if Little Jonny had a cold at work?

But sometimes universities don't do anything - really nothing, even if there is a case of mental collapse. Which I think is rather more of a problem than PFBs and awful parents.

ICantRememberWhatSheSaid Wed 26-Jun-13 21:45:22

I can understand why parents feel this way as they so often have to help fund their 'young adults'. I would be pretty pissed off if I found out my DC were missing all their lectures.

However, I don't think that Uni's should have any contact with parents. As the OP says, the contract is with the student and the University. Parents should not be involved.

diplodocus Wed 26-Jun-13 21:48:13

Positive attitude - I would suggest you contact occupational health dept for the uni your DD2 is considering. As mental heath issues are now, I believe, covered by the disability act then they should be able to work with you to ensure her needs are met in order to access her course. Some unis are better than others. MIND might be able to give you some advice.

Floralnomad Wed 26-Jun-13 21:49:13

numberlock sorry I'm probably a bit thick but how else can you do it ? Or are you suggesting that the student gets the loan and then you pay when they finish ?

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