Publication Details

O'Shea, S. (2015). "I generally say I am a mum first . . . but I'm studying at uni": The narratives of first-in-family, female caregivers transitioning into an Australian university. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 8 (4), 243-257.


The university student experience is both evolving and diverse. Increasing numbers of older students are accessing universities worldwide, and also access for student equity groups is a key policy driver in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, and others. However, among this change and flux, how individuals manage their transition into this environment with reference to new and existing identities is worthy of further exploration. This article draws on 2 separate but complementary Australian research projects that explored the experiences of students who had all commenced university after a significant gap in learning. The participants that feature in this article are all female caregivers who also identified as being first-in-family to come to university. The article seeks to explore how the women managed this move into this tertiary environment and also the ways in which student and caregiving identities interacted. The article presents narrative vignettes derived from the collective voices of participants, each of which explores key facets of this return to learning.



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