The Financial Realities for Students from low SES Backgrounds at Australian Regional Universities


  • Marcia Devlin Federation University
  • Jade McKay Federation University



higher education, low SES background, financial disadvantage, student success, regional students


Students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds often contend with financial issues that have the potential to impact significantly on their success in higher education. Research has shown that students from low SES backgrounds often find themselvesunder economic pressure to prioritise paid work over their education. Few studies have explored the financial realities and challenges facing students who are from both low SES backgrounds and who are studying in regional areas of Australia. This paper presents some of the key findings from a recent national study undertaken by the six universities in the Australian Regional Universities Network (RUN). The study set out to explore approaches and strategies to facilitate the success of students from low SES backgrounds at regional universities. In interviews with 69 students from low SES backgrounds and 26 stakeholders recognised as experts in the field of facilitating success for these students, financial challenges were found to be one of the most significant barriers to student success. Documenting these insights, this paper has the potential to inform academics, institutional leaders and policy makers alike in their approaches to mitigating the financial challenges for these students and to facilitate their success.

Author Biography

Jade McKay, Federation University

Office of the DVC (Learning and Quality)
Research Fellow



13-05-2018 — Updated on 20-07-2018


How to Cite

Devlin, M., & McKay, J. (2018). The Financial Realities for Students from low SES Backgrounds at Australian Regional Universities. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 28(1), 119–134. (Original work published May 13, 2018)