Students on (why) Family Matters: Family Involvement in Higher Education through the Case of Cyprus

Monday, 16 July 2018: 11:20
Oral Presentation
Eleni THEODOROU, European University Cyprus, Cyprus
Iasonas LAMPRIANOU, University of Cyprus, Cyprus
Loizos SYMEOU, European University Cyprus, Cyprus
Family involvement is increasingly spreading into higher levels of education as many parents/guardians strive to contribute to and become involved in their children’s university experience (Lynk Wartman & Savage, 2008). Nonetheless, the exploration of the phenomenon of family involvement within higher education has only recently begun to receive attention, even though it affects not only the student but also other domains of higher education experience, such as institutional philosophies and policies, programs and services and administrative structure (Carney-Hal, 2008). This paper presents part of the data collected for a mixed-methods study (including surveys, individual and focus group interviews, and online logs) aiming to investigate family involvement in higher education through the case study of two universities in Cyprus, a state and a private.

The broader project is situated within sociological examinations of family involvement, looking at how values, ideas, ideologies and power dynamics play out in the different manifestations of family involvement from the perspective of the main actors involved: students, parents, faculty, and university staff. The data discussed in this paper are drawn from in-depth one-on-one interviews with 40 students as well as a survey completed by undergraduate students (Ν=1250) attending the two universities between September 2013-June 2014.

The analysis of the student data indicates that many families in both universities get involved in the university life of their children who, even though, they may express discontent about what they perceive as their parents’ intrusion into their lives, they nevertheless also accept, or even desire, their involvement as a natural part of parenthood and upon certain conditions. Implications of the normalization of family involvement in higher education for the role of higher education in the context of its increasing marketization and commodification are discussed.