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Why parents are the ultimate university influencers


Back in the days before student tuition fees, when your local council provided a grant for you to go to university, the decision for most prospective students probably felt more independent – a stack of paper prospectuses and a vague idea of where you fancied was enough for you to decide. Yes, most parents would probably contribute financially in some way, but fast-forward to 2023 and there’s far more costs involved.

While university tuition fees are deferred in the shape of a student loan, the rising cost of living must be met by the student, and by default, the student’s parents or guardians. In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, means-tested maintenance loans are available, but these are subject to household income, essentially, it’s up to parents to make up the shortfall. The National Student Money Survey in 2022 calculated that for many parents, this could be as much as £6,000 a year. As such, it’s fair to say that parents have never had more skin in the game.

The shift in influence

Traditionally, university influencers were seen as teachers, peers, and career specialists. However, parents are now taking centre stage due to their deep emotional and financial investment in their child's future. They provide not only financial support but also invaluable emotional guidance, making them key decision-makers in the university selection process.

Universities are beginning to realise the immense impact parents have on their children's decisions and are now focusing on producing and distributing content tailored specifically to engage and inform parents. Here’s how to create content that resonates with them...

            1. Active decision-makers

Parents are no longer passive observers in their child's education; they actively participate in important decisions, so your content should reflect this. Even decisions on extracurricular activities are often made collaboratively, considering both the student's aspirations and the parents' insights.

            2. Emotional guidance

The emotional well-being of students is a top concern for parents. Universities that address this concern through counselling services and mental health resources resonate strongly with parents seeking a nurturing and supportive environment for their children. Create content which demonstrates how your institution addresses mental health concerns.

3. Financial investment

As discussed, higher education comes with a significant financial burden. Parents, often responsible for funding their child's education, want assurance that their investment will yield promising outcomes. Universities that transparently share information about post-graduation job prospects can alleviate parental concerns.

4. Navigating the admissions process together 

Clear and concise application guidelines tailored to parents can simplify the often complex university admissions process. Comprehensive details about scholarships, grants, and loans can alleviate financial concerns and help parents plan effectively.            

5. Career outlook Insights

Sharing information about the job market and the success of alumni in various fields can reassure parents that their child’s course will lead to a promising future. Interviews with faculty members, career advisers and alumni can provide valuable insights into the university's offerings and the potential career paths it can lead to. Sharing stories of successful graduates can demonstrate the university's commitment to student growth and success.

Building trust through engaging content

In today's highly competitive market, parents are the ultimate university influencers. Their active involvement, emotional guidance, and financial support make them crucial partners in a student's educational journey. To capture parental attention and foster trust, universities should focus on producing engaging content tailored to their interests and concerns.

Contact us today to see some examples of our work with leading UK and overseas universities.