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

As thousands of students across the breadth of the UK prepare to fly the nest and embark on University life, new research commissioned by TV Licensing1 reveals the worries that keep their parents up at night.

With A-Level results now in, parents of undergraduates across the land 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 TV Licence, needed for live TV on any channel and BBC programmes on iPlayer.

The research reveals that 82% of UK parents of undergraduates are concerned that their child will rack up university debt, while 60% of parents are uneasy that their kids will be side tracked by socialising.

Parents in London are the most concerned in the UK about the state of their children’s finances, with 98% of parents in the capital restless about the spiralling costs of higher education creating unmanageable debt. The regions least worried by debt were the East of England and Scotland; however over three quarters of parents in these areas still reported that they are apprehensive over finance.

Students from Aberdeen appear to be the nation’s biggest party animals, with 90% of parents fearful that their kids will spend too much time celebrating instead of studying. Parents in the Scottish city were also the most fretful across the UK that their child might not be able to cope with the pressures of academia, with a staggering 94% reporting that they were nervous about their child keeping up with the demands of their course.

In contrast, students from Preston appear to be the most studious with just 39% of their parents worrying about them coping with their studies. Parents in Ipswich and Cambridge are the most relaxed regarding their kids being distracted by university nightlife, with just 38% of parents in both cities thinking that their kids might be more tempted to hit the bars than the books.

Parents in Lincoln are the most worried about their child not having a TV Licence, with 86% fearful their child will watch TV without one and be at risk of prosecution and a fine. Whilst parents in Portsmouth were the most confident that their children would abide by the law, with just 14% worrying that their child will watch TV without a licence.

A licence is needed to watch or record live TV on any channel or BBC programmes on 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.

Jason Hill, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said:

If your son or daughter 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.

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 students TV Licensing page or phone TV Licensing on 0300 790 6113.


1. Research carried out by Opinion Matters, 15-24 August 2018. Sample size: 1,251 parents of UK children at university or about to start this year.

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