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Survey reveals parents’ confusion over university applications

Survey reveals parents’ confusion over university applications

  • Date03 June 2019

An independent survey conducted on behalf of Royal Holloway, University of London, has found that while the majority of parents (93%) want to be involved in helping their son or daughter select a university, less than half (48%) understand how to apply for a place.

Parents and child at university

The survey of parents of 14 to 17 year olds across the UK also reveals confusion among parents around how many courses their children can apply for; only 17% realise that aspiring students can apply to up to five courses. These can be multiple choices at one institution, or different courses at five different institutions. They also do not realise that the order of the institutions and courses that are applied for is irrelevant as universities don’t see this full list. The majority, (72%) of parents, are also unaware that their child can receive up to five offers from universities.

Many universities provide information specifically for parents on their websites about the application process and what to expect at each stage.

Professor Paul Layzell, Principal of Royal Holloway, University of London, explains:

“Going to university is a big decision, and one that must be made by the young person themselves. However, we recognise the important role parents and guardians can play in supporting a young person to choose the course and university that’s right for them.

“When we talk to parents, they tell us how overwhelming the process of applying to university can be; parents who went to university themselves tell us how confused they are because the application process has changed from their own experience, parents who didn’t go to university are concerned because they don’t have personal experience to use as the basis for advice.”

Paul continues: “We believe that universities, like Royal Holloway, have a role to play in supporting parents and guardians as well as prospective students. By providing accurate and up to date information specifically for parents and guardians about how the application process works, instead of worrying about what they don’t know, families can use knowledge and facts to support a young person to make a decision that is right for them.

 “My advice to parents and guardians is to look for information which has been designed for them on the websites of the universities their young person is interested in. If they’re joining a young person at an open day, take the opportunity to ask questions about the things you are concerned about. If you can’t attend in person, email the university’s admissions team who should be able to help.”

Royal Holloway has a parents’ and supporters hub on its website with key information about the application process and the university experience as well as some handy print-off guides. The university holds a number of events specifically for parents and supporters of young people who intend to go to university, these include drop-in sessions and information evenings.

Royal Holloway’s summer open days for undergraduates take place on 14 and 15 June 2019 at its Egham campus.



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