The academic outcomes of first-in-family in an Australian university: An exploratory study

Erica Southgate, Heather Douglas, Jill Scevak, Suzanne Macqueen, Mark Rubin, Carol Lindell


Although the first-generation and first-in-family status (FIF) of university students has been of intense interest in the USA, it has received very little consideration in Australia. The present research redressed this imbalance by investigating the academic outcomes of FIF undergraduate students at a large, public, Australian university. Undergraduate students (N = 227) who were enrolled in education, nursing and liberal arts degrees completed an online survey. Data are representative of typical gender enrolment patterns for these degrees. In contrast to US research, there was no clear relationship between socioeconomic status and FIF status in this sample. Consistent with US research, FIF students had poorer academic outcomes than non-FIF students. However, this difference was only significant after the first-year of study when students were less likely to receive scaffolded learning support within courses. FIF students were more likely than non-FIF students to seek support from university services. The implications of these results for Australian universities are considered.


first in family; under-presented students; academic outcomes

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Banner image: Kira Jovanovski (2020), movement score 01 (detail): oil stick and acrylic on paper. Photograph by Kira Jovanovski. Cover image: Kira Jovanovski (2020), grunt_iteration 02 in the boughs and stamped: installation in University Gallery. Photograph by Jedidiah Cranfield. (c) the artist.





This journal is published on the lands of the Pambalong Clan of the Awabakal People.

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