Opportunity through Online Learning: Experiences of First-in-Family Students in Online Open-Entry Higher Education
Australian Journal of Adult Learning Volume 56, Number 2, ISSN 1443-1394
Online learning has an important place in widening access and participation in higher education for diverse student cohorts. One cohort taking up online study in increasing numbers is that of mature-age, first-in-family students. First-in-family is defined as those who are the first in their immediate family, including parents, siblings, partners and children, to undertake university studies. This paper looks at the experience of 87 first-in-family students, for whom the opportunity to study open-entry, online undergraduate units through Open Universities Australia made it possible for them to embark on a university education. Using a qualitative methodology, in-depth interviews and surveys were conducted with these students as part of a wider study into first-in-family students (O'Shea, May & Stone, 2015). Findings include the important role that opportunity plays in providing the impetus for study, as well as the importance of support and encouragement from family, friends, colleagues and institutions in being able to continue the journey.
Stone, C., O'Shea, S., May, J., Delahunty, J. & Partington, Z. (2016). Opportunity through Online Learning: Experiences of First-in-Family Students in Online Open-Entry Higher Education. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 56(2), 146-169.