Tuesday, September 13, 2005

And where will he keep his drugs?

Jonathan Wolff writes in The Guardian - sorry, theguardian - complaining about the increasing role of students' parents.

He is not the first academic to comment on this trend. On 29 July this year Frank Furedi wrote in the Times Higher Education Supplement:

In 1997, I completed my book The Culture of Fear. Most of the comments my copy editor made about the manuscript were routine questions about grammar, incoherent formulations and inconsistencies. But one of the comments stood out as an explicit challenge to the authenticity of the text. The contentious passage informed the reader of a relatively new development - the arrival of parents on campus. To illustrate the changing character of university life, I pointed to what was then a relatively novel phenomenon: students arriving on campus for their interviews, accompanied by their parents. "This cannot be true," exclaimed my editor.

At first, I was taken aback by her implicit challenge to my integrity. But after we had discussed this issue, I was able to understand where she was coming from. As someone who was an undergraduate in the 1970s, she could not reconcile her experience of a parent-free university with the subsequent changes.

He went on to say:
That was eight years ago. Since then, parental intervention in higher education has grown, and no one would now argue that it represents a marginal or transitional phenomenon. On the contrary, anyone who raises concerns about this infantilisation of campus life is likely to be accused of insensitivity towards the "conscientious parent".
What this phenomenon shows is that going to university is now a very different experience to what it was for my generation in the 1970s. It also suggests that the common view that children grow up much more quickly these days is in need of some qualification.

1 comment:

Tabman said...

Jonathan,

doesn't the statement about "students arriving for interviews with their parents" reflect the following:

- more people use private transport; 18 year olds expect to be ferried around
- given the increasing contribution made by parents towards their offsprings University education, perhaps they wich to see what their money is going towards?
- very often parents provide accommodation for their children, by buying a house in the town or city where they study

The other thing to think about is that going away to University is a relatively rare phenomenon; in most other countries students are far more likely to live at home and attend a University near by.