As a parent of a child who has jointly attended several open days during this university application cycle, I find it disturbing that Mary Curnock Cook, the chief executive of Ucas, has any role to play in the university admissions process because she is clearly divorced from the realities that most families and their children face when applying to university (“Middle-class parents told to ‘butt out’ of university open days”, News, 9 September).
The privileged might not have much concern when their offspring are borrowing tens of thousands of pounds for tuition fees plus significant maintenance funds over three years. However, those of us for whom such borrowing is a major undertaking and worry will take every opportunity to visit the halls of residence and university departments that our child will attend. I want to know all the costs – of equipment, textbooks, meals, accommodation. I want to know how many contact hours will be provided.
At one open day we attended, parents were invited into a separate room where we could quiz the dean and faculty staff on any issue. This lasted for nearly an hour, and the staff provided very useful and what I felt was honest information on a variety of topics. The applicants were scheduled to meet staff in the laboratories during this time to ask their own questions.
I suggest that it is Curnock Cook who should “butt out” and leave the structure and design of open days to responsible and responsive university staff, to those who might wish to study there and to those who pay a far higher proportion of their annual income in maintaining the university system than she does.