Seminar on experiences of students who were first in their family to attend university

Manchester Met’s First Generation campaign is called to mind by research by a senior lecturer who has looked into the factors affecting the success of students who are the first in their family to enjoy higher education.

Dr Roisin Kelly-Laubscher, who is involved in academic development, will lead a seminar on her research into two students at a university in South Africa where the question of whether gaining admission to study is the same as gaining real access to university has been pulled into focus.


The unusual methodology involved asking the subjects to draw pictures about their journey to, into and through the university and then record a video of them explaining their drawings and experiences.

The event, organised by the Manchester Met’s Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching,  will take place on Wednesday March 22 between 11am and 1pm in Room 4.06A of the Business School and will be followed by a light lunch.

Numbers are limited to 25, so please register your attendance.


Factors affecting the success of students who are first in the family at a South African university

In South Africa, despite increased entry into tertiary education for students from poorer townships and rural areas, it would seem that many are gaining admission without gaining real access to the University.  The necessity for more focused research into this lack of real access has been highlighted in South Africa by the recent activity of the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustfall movements. Although much research has already focused on the broader population of students disadvantaged by the legacy of apartheid, very little has focused on factors affecting the success of students who are first in the family at university (FIFU).  In using focus group methodologies we were aware that speakers of English as an additional language might be silenced in a diverse focus group.  Therefore, we decided to complement these methodologies with a participatory learning and action (PLA) approach.  This entailed asking students to draw their experiences of the journey to, into and through the university.  Then, using these drawings, students explained their journeys to the researchers and these were video recorded.  As well as being a stimulus for conversation in the focus groups, we felt that the drawings themselves might serve as a window into the experiences of these students.  Using Margaret Archer’s notions of identity formation, this presentation will focus on the journeys of two first generation students at UCT.

About Roisin:

Roisin Kelly-Laubscher is a senior lecturer involved in academic development at UCT since 2009.  From 2009-2013 she was a lecturer in the Department of Human Biology where she convened the Anatomy and Physiology courses for the School of Health and Rehabilitation Studies Intervention programme (an extended degree program).

Since then she has joined the Academic Development Programme and Department of Biological Sciences where she currently runs the first year biology course for the science extended degree program.  She has a PhD in Physiology and was involved in Cardiovascular Research for many years, however her career has taken an alternative route to that normally pursued by scientists and she now focuses on education research.  Her main research interests include biology education, writing in biology, and the experience of first generation university students.