The higher education sectors in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and New Zealand are all undergoing significant change which has been caused by, on the whole, international imperatives for a more educated, more highly skilled, general population. The argument is made that we need a working population equipped to meet the needs of modern economies no longer based on primary or secondary industry, but on technologies and ‘knowledge’ economies. In order to bring this about, governments in all four countries manufactured

national goals relating to the percentage of their populations they wished to possess an undergraduate degree. A corollary of such goals was the provision of university access to demographic groupings who did not traditionally attain a tertiary education. At varying times and places, these included women, Latinos, people from low socio-economic backgrounds, Ma-ori, people from ethnically diverse backgrounds, Afro-Americans, Pasifika, and Indigenous Australians. Government policy was attuned to these ambitions, and as a result, universities

were requested (to varying extents) to participate in the massification, or widening participation, project. As discussed in chapter 1, the extent to which each university contributed to the project depended on their relative rank in the league tables, and ultimately, on their reputation for excellence. As a result, the universities admitting a higher proportion of first-in-family students tended to be those at the bottom, rather than at the top, of the league tables. First-generation students entering universities commonly find themselves in a

pressured situation: they have to balance their part-time employment demands; commonly they have to travel long distances to attend class; many have family and community commitments to meet; and, critically, they are required to learn the sometimes obscure behavioural protocols universities expect alongside a wide range of new academic literacies. Balancing these complex factors is extremely difficult and, as a consequence, many such students leave their course. Some return later, but many do not. So whilst the participation rates of first-generation students have increased, these are not commensurate with their graduation rates. Why this is the case has been addressed in this book: students leave for a variety

of social and familial factors over which universities have no control. But they also

leave because their experiences at universities are not sufficiently affirming to persuade them to persist through a degree, and universities can act to improve this. Of course all universities already have a wide range of student-facing support

services such as counselling, health services, study support, sometimes financial support, housing support, social support, employment services and so forth which can intervene when the demand of social and familial factors becomes problematic. They can act as means of rescue when the issues confronting a first-generation (or any) student combine in a way which threatens their continuing enrolment. But universities can also intervene through ensuring that their teaching staff are

not only aware of the diverse learning needs of their incoming students, but fully equipped to meet them. This can be a challenge when teaching staff have no teaching qualifications, when there are increasingly high numbers of casual teaching staff who may have little or no knowledge of (or even commitment to) the university’s learning and teaching culture and when teaching per se is viewed as a chore to be done prior to (or alongside) research which carries much more prestige in terms of a lifelong career. The pedagogies discussed and outlined in this book are specifically designed to

meet the needs of first-generation students – particularly in the first year of their degree – but work equally well with those from university-going backgrounds. If these teaching strategies are used widely, universities become more cognate

with diverse students, and the teaching staff who use them gain greater satisfaction from their pedagogical work. Ultimately, despite the myriad pressures on staff and students alike, both are

more highly engaged, and both achieve more.