Suzanne McQueen, writing on the Australian Association for Research in Education’s website, reports on a study at a large regional university in NSW on first in family to attend university.
In summary, McQueen states:
Over the past fifty years there has been a huge increase in enrolments in higher education in many countries, including Australia. Increases range between 15 to 50 per cent, and Australia is approaching the upper limits of that measure. This has resulted, in part, from a drive in countries such as the US, UK and Australia, to improve economic growth by encouraging students from backgrounds previously not attracted to university education, to gain a tertiary qualification.
The enrolment surge has raised many issues for universities as they deal with the influx of a new type of student. Having attracted these students into tertiary education, universities have a moral and ethical responsibility to identify and support them. It is unethical to invite students into university study for broad economic and corporate purposes without considering how participation affects the students involved.
In Australia, universities have particularly targeted students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. However there is now a stigma attached to this label, and it can lead to deficit approaches, where students are treated as being from problematic backgrounds, or needy communities, who are not likely to succeed without outside help.
Executive Summary [ NCSEHE ]
- Australian research on FiF university students is limited in number and in the scope of variables that may impact on achievement and university experience. The limited research on FIF students in the Australian context has covered aspects related to decision-making and enrolment patterns as well as attributions and indicators of success (Luzeckyj et al., 2011). These students were more likely to be enrolled in certain degrees (Education, Economics and Science as opposed to Law, Medicine and Engineering), be older, and come from a rural background.
- The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of FiF status, socio-economic and demographic contributors to the academic outcomes of students enrolled in a large regional Australian university.
The findings would be useful for any university that is expanding its enrolment base, and should underpin future government policy-making in this area.
- First in family to attend University – Australian research findings. [AARE 2016]
- Equity Groups and Predictors of Academic Success in Higher Education [ NCSEHE – Curtain University 2015 ]