In summary

  • A Swinburne survey found parents are the key influence shaping students' university course preferences
  • Swinburne's virtual Open Nights series will help students and their parents make informed decisions about the future 
  • The Open Nights run from 30 August to 2 September and cover all major study areas including arts, business, design, science, health and engineering

A survey of Year 12 and first-year university students conducted by Swinburne revealed parents are the key influence shaping students’ university course preferences.

Swinburne’s virtual Open Nights series, which kicks off on Monday 30 August, is easing the pressure parents face when it comes to helping their school leavers navigate decisions around what and where to study at university.  

The survey showed one in four (27 per cent) students see their parents as the most influential in this decision-making process. More than half of the students (58 per cent) said their parents have some level of influence on their decision.

Making informed study choices

Swinburne’s virtual Open Nights series, running from Monday 30 August to Thursday 2 September 2021, gives students and their parents the opportunity to have direct conversations with Swinburne academics and current students to help consider their future study choices.

Dr Andrew J Smith, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global and Community Engagement) at Swinburne, says parents play a critical role in helping guide their teenage children through decisions about their education.

‘Now is the time for students to make important decisions about their future. The research shows that parents play a critical role in helping guide Year 12 students through what can be an overwhelming process, on top of the pressure of their final year of school,’ Dr Smith said.

‘It’s crucial parents are aware of the university and course options available, so they are equipped to help their children make these decisions. At Swinburne we take a proactive role in supporting this decision-making process for parents and students. Our virtual Open Nights will arm students and parents with all the necessary information they need to make an informed choice,’ he said.

The last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have seen parents and caregivers shouldering additional responsibilities. From juggling work and home-schooling duties, to sharing strained internet bandwidth and home ‘office spaces,’ there is a lot on parents’ plates.

Mike Godwin is supporting his son, Joe, through a disrupted final year of high school and said the pressure is on for parents.

‘Comparing courses across different universities can get really complicated and I’m the first to admit that I don’t always have the answers,’ Mr Godwin said.

‘At the end of the day, I just want to steer Joe in the right direction, so he has all the information he needs to make this huge decision about his future. Knowing Joe can speak directly with academics through proactive initiatives such as Swinburne’s virtual Open Nights brings comfort by easing the burden of responsibility a little.’

Joe says he values his parents’ input and leans on them for support. ‘I often turn to my parents for advice and reassurance, and probably more so in the current climate because of all the uncertainty. Figuring out this process, especially during a time when everything is online isn’t easy, so the support of my parents and the fact universities are creating interesting, digital experiences is helpful.’

With COVID-19 restrictions disrupting Swinburne’s plans to hold an in-person Open Day, the survey also found 58 per cent of prospective university students rely on digital and virtual information, just as much as physical open days, to decide where to study.

Virtual Open Night series

The virtual Open Nights will cover all major study areas including arts, business, design, science, health and engineering:  

Monday 30 August: Engineering, IT, science, build environment and architecture, design and trades

Tuesday 31 August: Health, nursing, psychology

Wednesday 1 September: Business, law, aviation

Thursday 2 September: Arts, humanities and social sciences, education, film and television.

The nights will also include more insight into Swinburne’s new Work Integrated Learning Guarantee which gives all undergraduate students real industry experience including paid placements, internships or industry-linked projects.

Parents and students can register for the virtual Open Night sessions online.

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