Premium

Moral Money: 'My daughter has chosen a useless degree and I don't want to help pay fees. Am I a bad parent?'

Moral Money deciding whether to pay for university fees
A reader wants to refuse to pay the tuition fees of their daughter's university course Credit: Tamas Tomcsenko

My daughter is about to receive her A-level results but I feel she is making a mistake with her choice of course.

I had put aside cash to help pay her tuition fees but I am unwilling to contribute to an expensive degree in a useless subject. Am I a bad parent?

NK, London

Going to university isn’t cheap. On top of the tuition fees, students must pay for their accommodation, living costs and course materials, meaning the average student leaves university with more than £50,000 worth of debt, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

No wonder many parents try and help with the cost. In your case, you have saved to help your daughter with her studies but are now concerned that her course choice will leave her in debt with little to show for it.

You are right to have concerns. In today’s competitive market, a degree no longer guarantees a good job. In some industries, the number of graduates far outstrips the amount of jobs on offer.

A recent study suggested that degrees in business, computing, law, economics and maths generated the highest salaries after graduation. By contrast, those with degrees in humanities and the arts tended to have the lowest wages.

But if your daughter has her heart set on a particular career then many will feel it is not your place to steer her away from that. Sit down with her and chat through your concerns in a reasonable way. Gently explain how you are concerned that her course choice will affect her long-term career prospects, but remember it is ultimately her decision to make.

Although you do not approve of the course, there are other benefits which must be considered. Going to university will offer your daughter new experiences, the chance to meet new friends and a first taste of life away from the family home.

If you are still unwilling to contribute to her tuition fees, perhaps you could encourage her to take a job to support her studies.

You could then set the nest egg aside until she has graduated. This money could be used to help her start a business, travel the world or put down a deposit for her first home.

What do you think? Readers can send their responses to each week’s questions by emailing moralmoney@telegraph.co.uk or by commenting below.

Put any question to us (and you can do so anonymously) and each week we'll publish a summary of the best responses. At the same time we will also pose the next week's question.

Last week’s Moral Money and your responses

It’s my aunt’s 70th birthday next month and instead of us showering her with gifts, she has asked her family and friends to donate to a charity of her choice.

However, the charity she has chosen is one that supports stray dogs in Thailand. I find this charity profoundly silly and pointless. I don’t really want to waste my money on this.

I’m happy to donate to charity, but can I choose another charity  and ignore her wishes?

AB, via email

'It's her birthday'

The point of giving someone a birthday present is to give them pleasure. If you give your aunt what she asked for, then she will be pleased and therefore your money won't be wasted. 

If you give her something she didn't want (especially when you knew what she did want), then she won't be pleased and your money will be wasted. Therefore, if you don't want to waste your money, give her what she asked for!

JE Howard, via comments

'Take her for a meal instead'

You are not obliged to do anything.  In your position, I would say that you love the idea that she wants a charity to benefit, and you're sure lots of people will donate to the charity, but you think it's a bit sad to have nothing to unwrap on the day OR a nice meal out, just the two of you OR whatever you would normally do - as you're only 70 once! 

Miss Scarlet, via comments

'It's a sound choice'

I wouldn't call an animal protection charity silly or pointless.

Joanna Bax, via comments

'Try a surprise gift next time'

Why should an aunt expect anything for her 70th birthday? Of course, if you asked her what she wanted, then you've created the problem for yourself.

John Gordon, via comments

'Monkey business in family member's will'

My grandfather’s widow left a substantial sum of money to a chimpanzee charity in south London. We have no idea why. I’m not even sure the charity existed. But it was her wish.

Simon Bell, via comments