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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 September, 2003, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Students' parents offered support
Student bar
Over 360,000 new students will soon be adjusting to university life

It's usually the first-time students who are offered support by universities, as the nervous new arrivals are made to feel at home.

But Leicester University is aiming its support at the parents of students, in an attempt at "softening the blow" as their youngsters leave home.

These "empty nesters", who bring their children to university at the beginning of term, are to be encouraged to talk to other parents and to meet the academic staff.

The university wants parents to see more of where their children will be studying - and to feel more confident about how they will spend their time away from home.

Paying the bills

"This is a transitional period for both students and their parents. We try to make it as smooth as possible, and to offer appropriate interventions when they are needed," said Clare Taylor, the university's head of student welfare.

"It is important that parents as well as students are aware of the extensive support systems provided by the University, and more importantly, how to use them."

Apart from recognising the anxieties of parents, handing over their offspring, the university's "family programme" is also a recognition that it will be the parents who will be paying for much of this experience of higher education.

"Parents often play a significant part in funding their children's education and want to be involved without interfering," said Ms Taylor.

In the next couple of weeks, more than 360,000 students will be beginning at universities across the United Kingdom.

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