Byline: Laura Clark Education Correspondent
STARTING university used to be the time when the parents' apron strings were finally cut.
But not any more, it seems. These days campuses are brimming with 'helicopter' parents who are unable to stop hovering around, university bosses say.
And some are even staying overnight in their children's dorms during freshers' week.
Mothers and fathers who refuse to 'cut the umbilical cord' are also said to be fuelling a rise in the number of students appealing against their exam marks.
Academics have warned that students are becoming 'infantilised' due to parents' increased presence on campus.
At the University of the West of England, in Bristol, parents have been known to stay for up to a week - mainly mothers with daughters.
Keith Hicks, a university spokesman, said: 'That's symptomatic of good relations between the parent and the daughter but certainly you have a growing interest from parents in what their son or daughter is getting out of university, and quite rightly.
'We have seen a difference with that step up [in tuition fees] to [pounds sterling]9,000 a year, but even with [pounds sterling]3,000 a year there was greater involvement by parents.'
Middle-class parents who have paid for GCSE and A-level resits are also more likely to question the decisions of university examiners, according to David Palfreyman, bursar of New College, Oxford and director of the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies.
'Mum and dad have paid for a remark and a resit at each phase of the A-level process,' he said.
'The students just carry on that mentality at university and so do mummy and daddy. The family is investing in it so it is not surprising if mum and dad work out that there is this appeals process.'
The 'helicopter parenting' trend begins with university open days, when students - and increasingly their entire families - visit prospective institutions to decide where to apply.
Increases in tuition fees, first to [pounds sterling]3,000 a year in 2006 and this year to a maximum of [pounds sterling]9,000 a year, have brought an 'extra element of student and family consumerism', said Mr Palfreyman. …