‘I have learnt [university] is not as daunting as I thought…’

(Grandmother of School Student, Survey Respondent 2016)

The quote above is derived from research that I have been conducting with the parents / caregivers of future university students, concerning respondents’ perceptions and understandings about university. The data from this research, combined with interviews and surveys conducted with family members of current university students has provided the empirical basis for a range of resources, all of which will be available at www.firstinfamily.com.au. One of the resources that has just been completed, is suggested tips and strategies on how to engage with the extended family / networks of learners. These tips are targeted at practitioners in the equity and outreach field and are designed to generate conversations about how institutions might begin to engage with the extended networks of FiF learners. The family can be regarded as a rich form of ‘capital’ for this cohort that arguably assists in both the retention and success of these learners (O’Shea 2016).

Importantly, the use of the term family in this research does not imply a traditional notion of the ‘nuclear family’ instead this term is used to identify those who are significant to the learner. We do not assume that this is a blood relative or a partner but instead use this term in its most inclusive sense being the embodiment of whatever the individual perceives to be family’.

Blog_What is FamilyIf you are interested in reading more about this or viewing the Tips for Engaging and Supporting Family Members of First-in-Family Learners, these can be downloaded here.

Finally, with the end of August looming I’d like to encourage people to consider submitting a Lightening Presentation for the upcoming Conversations about Retaining First-in-Family Learners.

Lightening Presentations are being used to showcase examples of Best Practise in supporting, retaining or engaging first-in-family learners. Consider these as being a ‘taster’ of an innovative practice you are involved in as each presentation is only 15 minutes in length The call for submissions for Lightening Presentations has been extended to 29 August and involves submitting a short proposal – details are available here.

We are also still taking registrations for the two day forum, which will feature a diversity of speakers in the field and promises to be an excellent networking event, with participants attending from across Australia and overseas. Registration is available here.


Warm regards,



Building Knowledge

 Tip #2 Focus on demystifying the ‘strangeness’ of university and its environment.   From: Eight Tips for Engaging and Supporting Family Members of First-in-Family Learners

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *