Publication Details

O'Shea, S., Stone, C. & May, J. (2014). Breaking the barriers: supporting and engaging mature age first-infamily university learners and their families. 17th International FYHE Conference 2014 (pp. 1-6). Brisbane, Australia: QUT Publications.


This nuts and bolts session will report on preliminary findings from research currently being conducted with older, first-in-family university students. This student cohort often has family commitments and so the research was specifically interested in the impacts of returning to education for both the students and their family members. The study is significant because mature age/first-in-family students are often at risk of attrition and they also represent a growing student cohort; hence higher education institutions need to be actively engaging with this group to improve retention and explore the possibilities for intergenerational educational participation. This research has been funded under the Office of Teaching and Learning Seed Grant initiative and is a partnership study between University of Wollongong, University of Newcastle and Open Universities Australia. The project is innovative, as it not only focuses on the students' experiences but also, more significantly, their families in order to better conceptualise family discourses around how knowledge and learning are negotiated.