FedUni study reveals outcomes at regional universities

Posted: Friday 31 March 2017

New research released by Federation University Australia may be helpful in shedding light on what helps students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to stay in their studies and complete their qualification. 

Funded by the Federal Government, the research sought to determine factors that contribute to retention and completion for students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds who are studying at regional universities.

Author of the research titled Facilitating Success for Students from Low Socioeconomic Status Backgrounds at Regional Universities, Professor Marcia Devlin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Quality), said the research showed that these students often have complex lives and competing priorities.

“Many of these students are parents and many have other caring responsibilities. They must balance academic study with these caring and related responsibilities, which often include the need to engage in paid employment while studying,” Professor Devlin said.

“Many are also the first in their family to attend university. This means there is a lack of familiarity with the peculiarities of university life and expectations of them as students, and an absence of particular, university-specific cultural and academic capital in their families on which they can draw.

“By choosing to attend university, in some cases they may also be seen as stepping outside accepted social norms within their families, friendship groups and communities.

“Many experience significant financial pressure. The costs of study materials, travel to university and the like on top of the usual expenses of living, including sometimes supporting a family, often while on a reduced income, mean they may have to make difficult choices about their priorities that other more traditional students do not have to make,” Professor Devlin said.

In context to these realities, the research highlighted eight factors that may help low SES students studying at regional universities in Australia to succeed:

  1. Resilience
  2. Relatives
  3. Revenue
  4. Reliable Technology
  5. Respect
  6. Relationships
  7. Reality Checks
  8. Really Good Teaching

Professor Devlin adds that none of these eight factors were found to be a magic bullet for university completion for these regional students and many are not within the influence of the university.

“It is also possible that many of these factors are not exclusively helpful to low SES background students nor those at regional universities and may be usefully explored in relation to the retention and completion of many Australian university students,” Professor Devlin said.

More information about the research can be downloaded here.

Contact Brendan Carroll
Media and Public Relations Project Officer
03 5327 6251