Information for parents and whānau

Discover how you can support your child or whānau while they are studying, and help them get organised for the next stage in their lives.

You play an important role in helping students decide where and what to study, and supporting them to succeed.

Find a timeline of what to expect in the first year, and other detailed information about how you can provide support in our Guide for Parents.

Before they start

Get to know us

We visit most schools in New Zealand twice each year and hold information evenings in many regions. Our Open Day is a great way for you and your child to get a feel for what life at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington is like.

You can also contact us during work hours by phone and email, or come and see us on campus in Wellington or in our Auckland office. We offer campus tours, one-to-one course planning appointments, and the opportunity to check out our halls of residence throughout the year.

Help them choose—but let them decide

Motivation is critical to study success, so you need to let your child make up their own mind about what to study. Help them think about their skills, interests and career goals to support their decision-making. If they’re not sure about their future direction, encourage them to plan their first year carefully to keep their options open.

It’s okay for students to change their mind about their course of study in the first year, and make changes to their courses or majors. In many cases they won’t take any extra time to complete their studies.

The application process

The first step in supporting your child’s application process is ensuring they’re on track to meet the University’s admission requirements.

They need to have decided their course of study before applying—and we advise applying as early as possible. See all the important dates for applying to enrol.

You’ll also need to talk together about how they will finance their degree. This includes both paying for their courses and living expenses. StudyLink can help finance your child’s study. Your child might also be eligible for a school-leaver scholarship, so it’s worth taking a look at what scholarships are available.

Equip them with life skills

Being prepared for university is about more than just deciding what to study. Encourage them to develop practical and personal skills to successfully manage their transition to university life.

These skills might include:

  • cooking for themselves
  • doing laundry
  • budgeting and managing a fixed income
  • asking for help when they need it
  • developing learning skills and study habits
  • learning how to prioritise their own health and wellbeing.

Adapting to university life

University will require your child to be more independent and proactive than they are used to at secondary school—they can’t rely on the processes they know from NCEA. You may see changes in their personality and identity as their personal responsibility grows.

Understand their workload

Students often only have 12–15 hours in lectures and tutorials each week, but they’re expected to do additional work on their own, so motivation and organisational skills are essential. It’s expected that students spend 2 hours working independently—doing readings, research, lab or studio work, or writing assignments—for every hour of lecture or contact time. This adds up to 36–45 hours a week for most first-year students.

There may be quiet times at the start of the trimester, but when assignments are due or examinations are held, students will need to spend many hours studying. Establishing a study routine is essential. Student Learning's study routine module can help.

Offer to help

Your role as a parent won’t be so hands-on anymore, but you can still offer to help. You could offer to proofread or check assignments. Keep in touch with your child, and let them know you’re still there to talk to. If they’re living away from home, keep up phone calls, emails, texts, and surprise care-parcels.

Stay informed about what’s happening during the year by checking the University's key dates.

Encourage getting involved

University is not just about study, and it should be fun and rewarding. Encourage your child to get involved on campus, by attending Orientation events and joining clubs or leadership programmes—or even just saying ‘hi’ to the person next to them.

About 80 percent of students at the University work as well as study. Employment helps pay essential costs, as well as providing valuable work experience and contacts when students are seeking full-time employment. You can help your child with feedback on their CV and job-hunting advice.

However, it is vital that students do not jeopardise their studies by working excessive hours. We recommend no more than 15 hours per week.

On-campus support

There’s a range of services and programmes to make your child’s experience at the University a successful one. All are run by friendly and experienced people who will provide information and guidance. You can point your child to our full range of student services and support.

What to do if you’re worried

If you’re worried about your student’s academic progress or health and wellbeing, talk to them first. Encourage them to approach the university’s support services.

If you have more immediate and serious concerns about their wellbeing or safety, talk to someone close to them—friends, halls of residence staff, flatmates—or if necessary, contact the student interest and disputes advisor or Student Counselling.

Students have the right to have their personal information and privacy respected, but the University is very committed to supporting students who are at risk of failing or who may have serious health or safety concerns.