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Parents and whānau

10 January 2024

Guiding young people through their education and career decisions isn't easy. From taking responsibility for learning to useful contacts, have a look at our information for parents and whānau.

New to university study

University study may be new to both you and your whānau, or it may have been a while since you undertook higher education. While some aspects of university life have not changed at all in the last few decades, in other respects it is vastly different.

Today there is a wide range of study options available, and there are many people on campus dedicated to supporting students in their academic choices and helping them in many practical ways.

Progression from high school

In contrast to high school, university students need to be more independent and proactive about attendance, study habits and interaction with staff and other students.

Find out more about how to Support your student before university.

Responsibility for their own learning

As well as lectures, students are required to attend tutorials (small group sessions where students discuss the topics with a tutor) to pass a course, but it is their responsibility to turn up. Students will need to keep track of assignment due dates and times for lectures and tutorials. No one will remind students of due dates, or ensure they know where to find information.

Students are expected to approach staff if they need help such as Student Supportmentoring programmes, the Pacific Development TeamUC Māori, Careers, Internships & Employment and the Academic Skills Centre.

A different learning style

Students often only have 14 to 18 contact hours per week (depending on the qualification they are studying towards). The rest of the time, they are expected to do background reading, research, lab/studio work or writing and revising on their own. Students can expect to spend two hours working independently for every one hour of lecture or contact time which adds up to 36–45 hours a week for most first- year students.

If students are taking laboratories, language labs and studios, they can expect to put in higher hours.

Find out more about how to Support your student in their first year.

Diverse student population

Students come from all around Aotearoa New Zealand, and from more than 100 other countries, with ages ranging from 17 to over 80.

Part of the challenge and the fun of university is making new friends from a diverse group of people and, for many of our first-year students, getting to know a new city.

See more information for parents of international students.

More information

Guiding young people through their education and career decisions is no easy task. We understand that parents do worry. If you can’t get in touch with your child please phone us below and we can do a welfare check for you.  

Join our Stay in Touch list and we will help you along the way:

Sign up here

Useful contacts

University of Canterbury
Phone:+64 3 369 3999

Future Students Office
The Future Students team are able to assist you and your student with the transition to university.
Freephone in New Zealand: 0800 VARSITY (827 748) 
Phone: +64 3 364 2459

Accommodation Services
Phone: +64 3 369 3569

UC Open Day | Rā Tōmene

Campus Tours

Freephone in New Zealand: 0800 88 99 00 (in NZ)
Phone: +64 4 917 3107 (international)

Fees Free

Parent and Whānau Guide

Guide to UC for parents and whānau.
Download (application/pdf, 1 MB)
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