Helping parents to advise and support

Building on the results of a previous study, STBY were asked by DUO/IB-Groep in the Netherlands to examine the ways in which parents support their children once they enter higher education. DUO/IB-Groep wanted to explore the needs of parents for services specifically tailored to them.

DUO/IB-Groep is the national body responsible for studentships, student loans and university registrations. They had previously asked STBY to examine how young students accessed their services, and this study found a great number relied extensively on parental support in this regard. This insight triggered DUO/IB-Groep to categorise parents as a secondary target group for their services; they had identified that an effective service provider responds to the needs of the social environment of their client – and in this case, this meant addressing parents.

STBY were asked to explore ways in which DUO/IB-Groep could achieve this. Initially focusing on the relationship between parents and students, it was established via a series of interviews that a huge number of parents wanted both advice and support from IB. Once this initial support had been provided however, the needs of parents could be split into two broad categories:

The first group wished to remain in the background of their children’s interactions with DUO/IB-Groep, and only deal with problems once they have occurred. In those instances this group would need to be quickly brought up to date with the current situation – a clear service opportunity for DUO/IB-Groep, and one that is currently neglected.

The second group meanwhile stated they would rather remain at the forefront of interactions. Many in this group were attempting to handle their children’s financial affairs, and were encountering problems when doing so; for legal reasons DUO/IB-Groep could only provide access to certain services directly to the students themselves, whilst having both parents and students attempting to implement solutions to certain problems was creating conflict problems.

STBY developed these research findings into a series of service concepts via an analysis workshop with the DUO/IB-Groep client team, an in-depth report on the research insights, and a day long co-creation workshop with people from various departments.

The result was the potential for DUO/IB-Groep to begin offering a far more holistic service, intimately in-tune with the environment its clients inhabit.