Debt, partying and TV Licence evasion top list of worries for Uni parents

As thousands of students across Northern Ireland prepare to fly the nest and embark on University life, new research commissioned by TV Licensing reveals the worries that keep their parents up at night.

Enjoying student life
Enjoying student life

With A-Level results now in, parents of undergraduates are fretting about their offspring leaving home comforts for life in student digs.

Many students will be fending for themselves for the first time, often moving to a new city and taking on new responsibilities such as a first-time TV Licence, needed for live TV and BBC programmes on iPlayer.

In Northern Ireland 82% of parents of undergraduates are concerned that their child will rack up university debt, while 77% of parents are uneasy that their kids will be side tracked by socialising. More than 65% of parents also fear that their son or daughter might struggle to cope with their course.

Research also reveals that 47% of parents are anxious that their child might choose to watch TV without a TV Licence and be at risk of prosecution and a fine, with TV Licensing encouraging parents to check whether their child is correctly licensed. A licence is needed to watch or record live TV or programmes on BBC iPlayer, on any device including a laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

TV Licensing is calling for students to seek help if they need to be covered by a TV Licence but are concerned about whether they can afford to pay for one. A licence costs £150.50 for the year, but there are payment plans which make it possible to pay in smaller, more manageable chunks, including:

Weekly cash payments, from as little as £6 a week. Students can pay at PayPoint outlets, online, by phone or text message.

Monthly, Quarterly or Yearly by setting up a direct debit, or by debit or credit card.

Karen Grimason, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said: “If your child is leaving home for uni life and planning on watching live TV or BBC iPlayer, organising a TV Licence is a top priority to avoid risking prosecution or a fine. If you aren’t sure if they need a licence, call 0300 790 6113 for advice. We’re always here to help.”

Bronagh, whose son Shane, will be heading to Queen’s University in Belfast said: "Like any mother I have my concerns but I believe with the right support and advice we can help our children to navigate their way through the many challenges they will face.

"It’s an entirely new experience for many students leaving home for the first time but by prioritising financial responsibilities alongside their study they can ensure that university life is a fun learning experience."

Gareth Pearse, Vice-Chair, NASMA (National Association of Student Money Advisors) said: "University brings a lot of new responsibilities, and making sure students have their TV licence sorted takes one thing off the to-do list. It contributes to the wider learning experience that is University life. It is important for students to be aware of the law, so they avoid risking prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000."

Students are encouraged to check if they will need a licence during their studies by visiting the TV Licensing website or phone TV Licensing on 0300 790 6113.