University Tips Blog
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by Jack Fox

Head of Student Recruitment and Widening Participation at Queen Mary University of London

posted on 1 May '21

A school and college guide to providing university information to parents and carers

Applying for a course in higher education can be a daunting experience. Not only for students, but also for parents and carers, especially if there is no experience of higher education within the family.

Both the Quality in Careers Standard and the Gatsby Benchmarks make specific references to involving and supporting parents/carers in careers education, information and guidance. It is therefore useful to be aware of the range of assistance available from universities to support you with this important area of work.

Support available for schools and colleges when offering university support to parents:

- Presentations at school or college parent’s events (when restrictions ease). Topics can vary, but typically include information about the benefits of higher education, the UCAS process and student finance.

- Information stands at a school or college (again when restrictions ease) - these provide a great opportunity to speak to either staff or current university students about entry requirements, progression opportunities and the experience of studying at a specific institution.

- Online resources - increasingly universities will provide information written specifically for parents. The UCAS website also produces a comprehensive guide for parents.

- Open days and applicant days - most universities will actively encourage parents to attend open days and applicant days - including online opportunities. It can often be reassuring for parents to learn about the environment, course structures and the financial/support services available to students.

Image of a desk and a laptop

The key higher education messages to disseminate to parents and carers

Many of you will be aware that parental engagement can be difficult. Often, the time you have to disseminate information can be limited. With this in mind, here are three of the key messages that you may find helpful to share with them:

- The benefits of higher education – this offers more than a qualification. Students can develop a genuine enthusiasm for a subject, working alongside experts in their field. It can also help develop a student’s interpersonal skills, provide a platform to make life-long friends and participate in a range of opportunities such as studying abroad.

- Start the conversation early - it is never too early to start talking about choices including university participation and courses with students. Questions focussing on interests inside and outside of school or college and career ambitions can be a great starting point.

- The support available at your school or college - ensure that parents are aware of the support available for students. This may include the provision for attending open days, support in completing the UCAS form and information evenings for parents.

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