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You are reading: In conversation with NCSEHE Doctoral student Jaimey Facchin

“Hey, my kid is in year 12. What the hell is an ATAR?”

NCSEHE PhD student Jaimey Facchin is hoping her research can equip parents and carers of First-in-Family (FiF) students to navigate the world of higher education and support FiF students across their educational journey.

Following a career in equity student outreach, Jaimey elected to undertake a PhD unpacking the role parents and carers play in a FiF student accessing university. Her research will specifically investigate students and caregivers in regional locations.

While Jaimey was a mature-aged student at the University of Wollongong (UOW), she had the opportunity to volunteer, and eventually work, within its student outreach programs. She progressed to become Campus Manager at UOW Batemans Bay.

“I’ve done outreach for about 10 years, and what we found in our Year 12 programs was that we always had phone calls from parents,” Jaimey said.

'Hey, my kid wants to go uni, I have a question.' 'Hey my kid is in Year 12, what the hell is an ATAR?' 'What's UAC?' 'How do they get into uni?'

These questions led to Jaimey and her colleagues developing an interactive online program, including information sessions for parents who had questions about university for their children. They established the FutureTalk Program to help parents and students navigate higher education pathways, options, and challenges.

“We would basically teach them what questions to ask, what to expect, and how to help …” Jaimey said.

“From that, most of the parents who came to our sessions, their kids would be the first in their families to go to uni. They’d never navigated that space before”.

Parents are often one of the biggest influences in determining a child’s post-high school life, whether that be going to university, TAFE, getting an apprenticeship, or entering the workforce. After reflecting on the lack of resources available for FiF parents and caregivers, she decided to commit to a PhD.

“It seemed like there wasn’t much research in the field that was from the perspective of the parents,” Jaimey said.

Jaimey is currently undertaking the data collection stage of her project, conducting interviews with both parents or carers and their dependents. From these narratives, Jaimey will deeply explore the role and influence of parents and carers in shaping the educational experiences of FiF students heading to university.

It seemed like there wasn't much research in the field that was from the perspective of the parents.

“My research aims to be from both perspectives, where I’ll ask both a parent how well they thought they supported their child going into university, as well as asking the student how they felt about the guidance or support they did or didn’t get,” Jaimey said.

When FiF students experience difficulties at universities, their parents might not know what practical advice or support is available for their child. Her research aims to better equip parents to support their children in navigating higher education.

Jaimey hopes her research can help influence further research into FiF students within other recognised equity groups, as well as informing current practices. She believes the findings can assist in developing and strengthening specialised university programs supporting FiF students’ access and transition to university.

“It could be developed to look at specific cohorts: First-in-Family Indigenous students, mature aged students… I don’t think the end for me is submitting my thesis and going ‘yeah I’m done’.” Jaimey said.

The main thing is informing current practices that universities have and trying to improve those. Jaimey’s PhD is co-supervised by Professor Sarah O’Shea and Dr Nicole Crawford from the NCSEHE.

Written by Alex Foot, Media Officer at NCSEHE.