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Mums set up online advice portal to answer parents’ questions about university

Rebecca Breen, who lives in Caerleon, and Sandra Veasey, from Cardiff.

TWO mothers have set up a special interactive online blog to help parents who need support when their children are thinking of going to university, and how to manage when they leave home.

Rebecca Breen, who lives in Caerleon, and Sandra Veasey, from Cardiff, have put together the resource so that other parents can benefit from their experience.

Rebecca is a mum of two daughters who have gone into higher education. Her eldest daughter, Aimée, 25,, studied Law at Leicester University and is currently a trainee solicitor, while her other daughter, Daisy, 19, is currently a Fine Art undergraduate at Nottingham Trent University.

Sandra’s daughter Catherine, 18, is studying for a BTEC in Public Services at Coleg Y Cymoedd in Ystrad Mynach, with plans to head to the University of South Wales (USW) in the autumn to study for a Professional Policing degree.

Both women’s experience of preparing and supporting their children, as they prepared for university and left home to study, gave them the idea to set up the blog for others who may be facing similar life-changing events.

“Both Sandra and I work in the student recruitment team at the USW, which is obviously focused on new students who might want to study here,” Rebecca said.

“While looking at ways to offer support to the youngsters, we noticed that there was nothing really available to answer the many questions that parents have. They can have a big influence on the decisions their children make, particularly around finance and personal safety, so have many questions of their own that need answering.”

Having two children who had already left home to study, Rebecca has shared her experiences.

“When Aimée went to Leicester it was obviously a huge shock for me, especially as she was going to be about four hours away,” she said. “I’m sure all parents get the feeling of grief because their life is changing, and their children are growing up.

“University was very different to how it was when I went, but there were the same things which would cause parents worry, and that’s what we wanted to highlight in the blog.

“The questions about halls of residence, will our children be able to make friends, will they be OK being so far from home, how can we look after them but not interfere? There’s so much to think about.”

For Sandra, the challenge has been more about supporting her daughter as she continues to study towards the qualifications that will guarantee a place at university.

“Catherine is still doing assignments which need to be completed for her to pass her BTEC,” she said.

“Because A-level grades are going to be decided by teachers and not exams, a lot of Catherine’s friends who are doing A-levels aren’t having to worry about completing their qualifications, but she’s still got to complete all of her coursework.

“This seems to have been overlooked in a lot of the news reports about what’s happening in education at the moment, that there’s still many who are still studying so they can get a university place.

“Using the blog we’ll be able to help parents understand what else is going on and some hints on supporting their children as they complete their courses.”

Visit https://www.southwales.ac.uk/about/schools-and-colleges/a-parents-guide-to-university/ to read the blog.

USW is hosting a number of online open days over the coming months to ensure students and parents can have their questions answered during the current lockdown.