‘All we need is love (and money)’! What do higher education students want from their families?
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Research has shown that consistent family support improves higher education (HE) students’ chances for adjustment and graduation but family over-involvement negatively affects students’ well-being. We theoretically bridge three largely disjointed bodies of literature (namely, family ‘support’, ‘involvement’ and ‘over-involvement’) and show that families of undergraduate students very often engage in roles traditionally reserved for lower levels of education. Through a large-scale, quantitative university student survey in two universities in Cyprus, we empirically show that the three bodies of literature should be unified, because family involvement in HE is better conceptualised and operationalised as a continuum. We further suggest that family involvement in HE can be split into two qualitatively different and empirically not significantly related constructs: rearguard and front line family involvement. In addition, the students seem not only to approve, but also encourage more family involvement (even ‘over-involvement’), and state that they would like their families to provide them not just with more financial help, but with more emotional support as well. The discussion extends to include an analysis of students’ perceptions of university actors’ attitudes towards family involvement.