“Students with parents that didn’t go to college don’t have that person they can call when they have a question. They have no map. That child is lost.” (New, 2014) Not having a ‘map’ or guide when you arrive at university certainly can have significant repercussions for the HE journey, not only in the initial… Read More


Details of the program and also presentations for our upcoming National Forum: Conversations about Retaining and Engaging First-in-Family Learners in HE have just been released; we are also now calling for Lightening Presentations on Best Practice. So, if you are doing something interesting with first-in-family learners and want to share it, follow the link to our… Read More


“My sphere of influence is small but my awareness has been raised and I can respond more appropriately to possible FiF learners” (Participant: OLT Fellowship Workshop) In February 2015 we held the inaugural First-in-Family Forum at University of Wollongong, the Forum attracted 113 participants from over nineteen universities across Australia. At the culmination of the… Read More


‘[The] benefits [of attending university] are not limited to the learners; the narratives…point to a more collective benefit for students and family members, with attendance at university frequently being the realisation of a collective ambition.’ (O’Shea, Stone, Delahunty & May, forthcoming) Recognising the particular challenges for first-in-family students has been a focus of my research… Read More


‘We must not forget that the poorest students in our society are often those studying without the emotional or financial support of their family.’ (New Starts: The challenges of HE without the support of a family network 2015, p.26) The last few weeks have flown past with travel to the UK and Ireland as well… Read More


  Did you know that over half of Australian students are first in their families to attend university? And that over a quarter of them consider leaving in their first year? Or, that during the difficult times, students are more likely to turn to family (or their community) for support? If you’d like to: Learn… Read More


  We’ve been working really hard to refine and bring together these overarching principles. They are the result of some great contributions from practitioners given through feedback and workshop activities across the country. The 7 Overarching Principles are: PRINCIPLE 1: Changing conversations: Engage with family and community. PRINCIPLE 2: Take the mystery out of university PRINCIPLE 3: Make… Read More


  “The workshop was great, very useful. Great layout and enjoyed opportunities for questions and discussions.” Workshop attendee   While this Fellowship is looking broadly at ways to engage with the family and community of first-in-family learners, a key facet is working closely with two case study sites, namely UOW and UNSW. In both sites,… Read More


The Australian Tertiary Education Manager’s Forum ran a special session on retaining students and invited me to present. My session was exploring ways to support and retain first-in-family students with a particular emphasis on how HE mentoring programs could be designed to focus on this particular cohort. Some of the take-home messages I delivered from my… Read More


  As part of the Engaging Families to Engage Learners (EFEL) OLT Fellowship, I have been conducting workshops at various universities across Australia. These workshops are designed to both disseminate findings from previous research conducted with first-in-family learners and also, ‘start conversations’ about how this cohort can be best supported as well as how institutions… Read More