ECU first generation student shares experience as Good Education Guide adds category

Savanna Oats is the first in her family to attend university - her father is a machinist and her mother works in administration. Picture: ECU
Savanna Oats is the first in her family to attend university - her father is a machinist and her mother works in administration. Picture: ECU

THE Good Universities Guide will feature a ‘first generation’ five-star rating for the first time in 2019.

The 2019 guide, released today by Good Education Group, includes a rating category in which the guide compares universities by the proportion of students who were the first in their family to pursue tertiary education.

Chief executive Chris Lester said the latest rating offered students a more holistic perspective of universities, rather than just how they perform in the academic and research space.

“The first generation metric applies to students whose parents did not study beyond Year 12 and provides a good indication of which universities are delivering educational opportunities to demographics that are traditionally underrepresented,” he said.

Savanna Oats was the first in her family to attend university, studying a double degree in commerce and psychology at Edith Cowan University.

“I was inspired to come to university to study psychology as I have always wanted to learn about my environment and why people are the way they are,” she said.

“I was unsure of my capabilities, so I decided to undertake the university preparation course before jumping straight into a degree.

“Being the first in my family to study at this level, I wanted a supportive environment where I could freely ask questions, which is exactly what I received.

“I would always recommend the UniPrep course to anyone who is unsure of what university is like; it really provided a foundation for me to pursue my current course.”

While more than 50 per cent of Australian tertiary education students are the first in their family to go to university, 26 per cent of that cohort was reported as considering leaving university within their first year of study.

University of Wollongong associate professor Sarah O’Shea has conducted hundreds of interviews and surveys as part of a 2015 study to provide more insight into the university experience for first in family students.

“First in family students often have additional pressures to contend with in their higher education journey,” Dr O’Shea said.

“These can include reassuring family members they have made the right choice, being a role model for others in the family and community and not having someone close to them whom they can approach for advice or support.”