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North London parents get crash course in university life

National increases in university fees are concern but getting a degree is still important, according to local parents visiting Middlesex University this week.

National increases in university fees are concern but getting a degree is still important, according to local parents visiting Middlesex University this week.

Hundreds of parents from Barnet, Enfield and Haringey were at the Hendon Campus last night, keen to find out more about recent high profile changes to university funding and fees.

The event was part of a range of initiatives introduced by the University to meet a surge in interest and inquiries direct from local parents, who are taking a more active role than ever in making sure their children are well informed.

Stephen Collinge, from Enfield, was at the event as his 17 year old son is keen to go to university. He said that, as a parent, he was now more discerning about the range of courses on offer: "The changes have made us think a lot more. Because our son is getting good grades and is keen to go to University we're happy with this, but if he wasn’t getting the grades I don’t think we'd push him towards university now. He’s interested in business and economics, and it's important he looks at the courses most likely to have a good career at the end of them."

Lynette Collinge added: "In some ways the fees don’t make too much difference as you’re going to have debts, so you may as well go for it. University fees have increased very quickly though so I'd have preferred to see them raised in stages so people could acclimatise."

Tina Courtenay-Thompson from Muswell Hill has a son currently weighing up his options. She said: "The changes have radically affected my view and I'm really encouraging my son to think very carefully about the course he chooses. When I went to University I studied English simply because I was good at it, but I didn’t think carefully about what I wanted to do."

"The subject is the issue - he needs to be really sure, and look at courses with plenty of contact time with lecturers. I do have some concerns about debt but I've read about the student loan system and it sounds workable. It's hard for young people as there are so many choices to make at every stage, but the information is out there. I'd prefer to come to an event like this rather than look at a website."

Over 1000 local parents have now visited Middlesex in recent months, and the University has dedicated areas of its website and new publications specifically for parents, meeting the new demand for information.

Middlesex Head of Recruitment and Events Marta Topornicka said:"We're seeing more parents coming to student open days and a lot of interest in our parents events, and it's really useful to be able to meet people face to face and explain the changes. It's natural that one of the biggest worries is that sons or daughters will struggle with debt, so we take time to discuss the new loan system and explain that students don’t have to pay any money up front, only making repayments when they are earning £21,000.”

"Applications to Middlesex remained high this year so we hope the message is getting through that the door hasn’t closed on ambitious young people who want to get a degree. We're telling parents that whether their children are considering Middlesex or any other university, they can speak to us and find out about the wide range of support and financial help for students that’s on offer.”

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