Sending your child off to university is a daunting time, particularly if this is the first of your children to go to university. It’s only natural that you’ll have a lot of questions and you’ll want to know that your child is going to be safe, happy, and have enough money to survive during their three or four years at university.
For the majority of students this is the first time they’ve lived away from home and been responsible for paying their own bills, managing their money, feeding themselves, and all of the other tasks involved with living independently.
Whilst you’re only at the end of the phone, your child could be moving hundreds of miles away, so the practical help you can give could be limited.
Luckily there should be plenty of support available, both financial in the form of loans, and from the university to help their students overcome the challenges of independent living for the first time.
Here’s more about the support that is generally available for students living away from home:
One of the biggest worries that students have about their children living away from home for the first time is how they’ll manage their finances and how short on money they’ll be.
First things first, accept that at some point your child is going to find themselves cash strapped. Learning to be financially responsible can be a steep learning curve, but it’s something all students have to go through and there is support they can get to make their financial situation a little better.
The most common type of financial support comes in the form of tuition fee loans and maintenance loans. Tuition fee loans are paid directly to the university and cover the full cost of your child’s tuition.
A maintenance loan is designed to cover the cost of accommodation and other living costs that students living away from home have. If your child is going to be studying in London then they’ll get more money to reflect the higher cost of living in the capital city.
If your child comes from a home with a low household income then there may be other financial support available from their university or college in the form of grants and bursaries.
Universities also recognise that some students may be managing their own finances for the first time and so they’ll have a finance team on campus that can give advice on budgeting and other financial issues. The university may also be able to give small loans to students who find themselves in dire financial straits, but they’ll encourage students to manage their money effectively to try and avoid this situation.
Aside from finances, there are many other things students require support with and all universities are set up to be able to provide this.
All universities in the UK will have an accommodation team who can provide support to students living both on campus and in privately rented accommodation.
Universities will also have a pastoral care team that can help students with emotional health and wellbeing issues. University nurses are on site for minor ailments and issues, and students are encouraged to sign up with the local doctor as soon as they arrive to deal with bigger medical issues.
University can be a stressful place, especially as a first year student, and universities recognise that looking after your mental health is key to being successful in your education. All universities will have some form of counselling service to enable students to talk through their issues in a safe, confidential environment.
Universities are designed to get students through their studies, they don’t set their students up to fail.
Remind your son or daughter to seek help from the academic staff if they find themselves struggling with the course content or workload.
University education is a big leap from college or sixth form education, with a far greater emphasis placed on independent learning, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t help available if a student needs it.
Lecturers and personal tutors will be only too happy to talk through the work and give advice on how to tackle the academic challenges set. Encourage your child not to be afraid to speak up when they’re finding something hard and to talk to someone before they find themselves really falling behind.