‘First in family’, higher education choices and labour market outcomes


This project examines ‘First in Family’ (FiF) students in higher education, whose parents did not attend university and obtain a degree. We compare their choices, their trajectories and their labour market outcomes.

Research details

Project title

‘First in the family’, higher education choices and labour market outcomes

Principal Investigator

Dr Morag Henderson


Applied statistical methods
Employment, income and wealth
Family and social networks
Social mobility


October 2018 – December 2021


Nuffield Foundation – visit the project page on the Nuffield Foundation website.


The project aims to provide the first evidence in England on ‘first in family’ students, using Next Steps, Millennium Cohort Study and Higher Education Statistics Authority data. Making use of advanced statistical methods, the research team identify the differences between ‘first in family’ and ‘non-first in family’ students, to explore the following research questions that will inform the widening participation agenda:

  • Do ‘first in family’ young people have different experiences at university in terms of institution attended, subject studied, and probability of dropout?
  • How does the ‘first in family’ measure compare to other widening participation indicators?
  • Are there differences by ‘first in family’ status on the graduate labour market in terms of working hours and labour market returns compared to peers whose parents had graduated?
  • Are there any substantive differences in non-cognitive skills such as locus of control, academic self-concept, work ethic and self-esteem of the potential ‘first in family’ students?
  • Has the proportion of potential ‘first in family’ students changed among the younger generation and across the home nations?



Video case study - ‘First in family’: higher education choices and labour market outcomes

13 July 2022

In this film the project’s research team discuss their research findings, explaining how ‘first in family’ students navigate the higher education system and labour market compared to those who have graduate parents.


‘First in family’: higher education choices and labour market outcomes


Discussion event: Widening participation in higher education

An online discussion event, 15 December 2021. What can we learn from a quantitative analysis on ‘first in family’ university graduates in the UK in relation to labour market outcomes and widening participation in higher education?

15 December 2021


Morag Henderson Professor of Sociology and Principal Investigator of Next Steps

Phone: 020 7911 5566
Email: morag.henderson@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Henderson’s main area of research is inequalities across the life course. More specifically she examines patterns in educational attainment, bullying and wellbeing.

Morag oversees all aspects of CLS’s work on Next Steps, and leads on the strategic and scientific direction of the study.

Nikki Shure Associate Professor in Economics, UCL Social Research Institute

Email: nikki.shure@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Shure is an economist interested in education and the labour market. Her current work examines the linkages between socioeconomic status and gender and participation in higher education, those who are ‘first in the family’ to attend university, education policy and maternal labour supply, non-cognitive peer effects, international comparisons of educational outcomes, and the returns to early education.

Anna Adamecz-Volgyi Research Fellow in Quantitative Social Science

Email: a.adamecz-volgyi@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Adamecz-Volgyi is a labour economist interested in education, fertility and labour market policy. She work on the project ‘First in Family’, higher education choices and labour market outcomes that looks at young people going to university for the first time in their families.

Relevant studies

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL

Email: clsdata@ucl.ac.uk

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