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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

5madthings Thu 27-Jun-13 00:05:10

You can take an interest...you can speak to your son or daughter, so nest bet is to make sure you have a good, open and honest relationship so they will come to you if they need to.

You are not entitled to know their marks, classes they do or don't attend etc.

solarbright Thu 27-Jun-13 00:11:27

Hmmm... normally I'd say the uni should not inform the parents of anything outside a medical emergency. In the case of positiveattitude, I'd say the uni should work with her to ensure daughter knows about victim support. Surely if one of her dd's friends had rung up to say, my friend has been the victim of a serious sexual assualt, she needs help, where should we go? we would not consider the friend to be interfering. That's the sort of help a crime victim might desperately need. Just because it's mum ringing up, it's not suddenly a ridiculous request. OTOH I would NOT expect the university to inform the parents of the assault - that is strictly up to the adult student involved.

funnyperson Thu 27-Jun-13 00:34:44

If I was the registered next of kin I would want to know of any serious medical emergency- hopefully the hospital would ring me. I dont mean sprained ankles I mean something serious. In practice, the DC or their friends have always rung me.

If the DC was in significant danger of being chucked out of the degree course, I would like to know from the university (with DC consent) before the situation is irreversible, as the financial implications for the whole family these days of a repeat year, or an unfinished degree are very very significant indeed. (weasel words about the insignificance of finances dont cut it with me I'm afraid). In practice, the DC have told me everything in minute detail, though in one case I think I was told far too late to be of any use at all except moral support.

The aim being to a)offer parental support to the student DC if possible and b) to be prepared for a family rethink and c) be aware of the truth.

mumeeee Thu 27-Jun-13 00:38:50

No unless it was an emergency Eg a DC being rushed to hospital. I did once get in touch with DD2's course tutor but that was because she asked me to. Her Grandad had died and she"d rushed home because she was very upset.

funnyperson Thu 27-Jun-13 00:42:50

I think the DC would be horrified (as would I) at the thought of parents routinely being involved officially more than twice during the degree-once at entry and once at graduation.
I've been surprised at how much they do tell me. More than I want to or need to know, really. I told my parents nothing for five years except when I passed my exams.

piprabbit Thu 27-Jun-13 00:44:20

We had a meningitis outbreak in halls while I was at uni.

Not only did the hall's pastoral staff refuse to contact the medical centre, request a doctor visit or even arrange for transport to the medical centre, they also refused to contact the girl's family.

This put a huge pressure on the the other students (18yo, only left home a few weeks before) to organise and take responsibility for everything. We managed, but I am not convinced that the Uni were right to turn their backs on the ill student or the students who were put under huge pressure to cope with her illness.

funnyperson Thu 27-Jun-13 00:45:38

Yes mumeee if there is a family crisis (our family has a lot of them, sadly) The DC are given the hospital letters to pass on to their tutors. One of them does so, the other would rather not and doesn't.

funnyperson Thu 27-Jun-13 00:47:04

piprabbit if one of my DC had meningitis I would want to know.

piprabbit Thu 27-Jun-13 00:48:31

I think the hospital contacted the family when she was admitted.
To this day I don't understand why the Uni refused to get involved.

funnyperson Thu 27-Jun-13 00:49:43

One of the DC got stabbed, didn't want to tell the tutor, and I emailed the tutor and told, and also said DC didn't want the tutor to know. I wasnt ure if I was doing the right thing because the tutor probably didn't give a monkeys but hey ho.

funnyperson Thu 27-Jun-13 00:51:11

piprabbit I think its the hospital that have the duty of care once a person is admitted and besides the uni may not have been told the diagnosis by the hospital till a lot later.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 27-Jun-13 01:00:24

Ok, not a parent, but I have taught students at university whose parents tried to get information and I have been a student whose university got in touch with parents when they shouldn't have - there are very good reasons why universities shouldn't get in touch.

If a student isn't attending lectures, that's their business. I'm sorry but it is. Even if that student has a disability or a medical condition or is in a shit and horrible stage in their life. The university does not have the right to violate that student's trust.

funnyperson Thu 27-Jun-13 01:02:35

Someone upthread talked about the universities being accountable. I think this is important. There needs to be transparency from all universities about whether tutors give feedback on work submitted within a reasonable time frame, whether students are made aware of their strengths and weaknesses within a reasonable time frame, and whether students are made aware of any risks to their degree progression in good time to do something about it.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 27-Jun-13 01:05:49

I agree with that funny.

However (playing devil's advocate), there also needs to be recognition from students that it's their job to seek out information. If a student says 'but I never got any feedback', does that mean 'I never got any because none was forthcoming', or does it mean 'I didn't go to the feedback session' or 'I got some feedback but it wasn't what I expected', or what?

I do think students often have a rough time, but I think students need to be told far more about what their responsibilities are, early on, rather than being allowed to make assumptions that may turn out to be wrong.

nooka Thu 27-Jun-13 01:17:40

I think that when students are in halls (generally I think only the first year in university) then parents should be informed if their child is seriously ill because their fellow students may not notice. I remember being a bit ashamed when one of my good friends was really unwell and the first we knew was when his mother arrived and took him home. We all then recalled we'd not seen him for a few days blush But that's about it really.

However I also think that universities need to have good pastoral care/ enable access to resources because mental health issue often arise in late teens/ young adults, and it can be very easy to be isolated, and for no one to notice that things are gong very wrong. That's about supporting young adults though, not enabling parental involvement in their lives.

Numberlock Thu 27-Jun-13 02:21:18

I was trying to say that if you are paying fees upfront - and some parents will be - then yes they are going to expect universities to be more accountable

Anyone stupid enough to pay fees upfront needs to get a new financial advisor...

MyShoofly Thu 27-Jun-13 02:47:19

What a breech of an adults privacy for a university to call their parents about schooling issues. I'd find that an unbelievable expectation.

Being sick is another matter....than a students emergency contact should be called.

sashh Thu 27-Jun-13 06:38:13

I do think that in the first year I should be told if they leave the university completely, miss enough work to be at risk of being thrown out or having to repeat a year or are seriously ill.

Why? (other than illness).

Would you do it if your 18 year old was working? Would you phone their work place and ask i they were doing their job properly.

exoticfruits Thu 27-Jun-13 06:51:24

Absolutely not! They are adults.
The sort of parent who wants it is the sort who hasn't been spending the last 18yrs gradually letting go and preparing them for adult life and the jolly well need someone to take a big pair of scissors and cut the apron strings for them! I think it is wonderful that they can phone up and they won't be told anything, without their DCs express permission.
I would hope that any hint of it would have a huge rebellion from students- it is a huge breach of privacy and I agree with MyShoofly- an unbelievable expectation.
I can understand parents going to open days now that it is so costly, but if they can't trust the DC to be responsible and do the work without mummy and daddy keeping tabs on them then perhaps university isn't for them.hmm
The next thing is that they will be wanting liaison officers to check they are going to bed at a reasonable time and not drinking too much!!

rhetorician Thu 27-Jun-13 08:00:39

funnyperson I think that universities are accountable, and recognise that they Re teaching young adults who aren't always as good at being responsible for themselves as one might hope. I can tell you that I spend endless hours fruitlessly writing comments, providing feedback and the kind of guidance you suggest in your post. But students, for the most pArt, do not take advantage of this. I do wonder why I bother sometimes. Most of the routine problems that students have could be resolved if they read the documentation and attended class. My job is to educate them, not make them attend class. I am external at a uk university as well where lecturers provide incredibly detailed feedback on work within a two week timeframe (brutal, especially for those with young children,and only doable if you stay up half the night). Almost no students avail of it.

exoticfruits Thu 27-Jun-13 08:09:54

Universities need to be accountable to the student- it is nothing to do with the parent.

alreadytaken Thu 27-Jun-13 08:38:55

sashh if they were working I would not be financially supporting them. And good employers may phone up someone's home if they don't arrive at work, because that employer is concerned about them. Universities often care very little about students.

Floralnomad Thu 27-Jun-13 08:46:32

Well I'm obviously some kind of idiot because I pay my fees upfront but I still don't think that means I can ring the uni to ask anything . I also don't think that paying the fees will mean my son is more likely to drop out / miss lectures ,if anything he's more likely to go so that he's not wasting our money .

Eyesunderarock Thu 27-Jun-13 08:47:46

'Another DD is considering uni for September. Our concern is that she has a history of MH problems and we know that this might not be the best environment for her to be in. I would want to know if she was struggling and slipping into a depression, but have no confidence that I would be told. My fear is then that I would get a phone call when things were too late for her. '

PositiveAttitude, they don't and they won't call either. Not for any reason.
The only way I've found is to physically visit mine and check she's still breathing and reasonably sane. I'm sorry that she ever went.

rhetorician Thu 27-Jun-13 08:49:25

alreadytaken I have to say that my experience is the absolute opposite of that. And you have to remember too that teaching is generally supposed to constitute about 40% of an academic's workload. What does this mean in practice? That the workload and hours go up accordingly. And I think all UK universities live in fear of the THES and Guardian rankings. I'm not saying that there's not bad practice, there is, and academics who couldn't give a stuff, but I think it's an unfairly sweeping statement tbh

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