Increasing the number of people who complete tertiary education, particularly among traditionally disadvantaged groups, is a priority for governments in Australia and internationally. The massification of higher education has seen a growth in people commencing tertiary education who are from social groups that have not traditionally attended university. Those without the requisite academic background can enrol via tertiary bridging programs in order to develop the required skills and knowledge. Satellite campuses in regional areas also support the enrolment of non-traditional students by bringing the university to the students. Using a phenomenographic approach, this research investigates the ways in which students experience a tertiary bridging program at a satellite campus of a regional university. The research report presents the aspects of the experience that were important to the participants by identifying the structural aspects of the experience, and creating descriptive categories in an outcome space. The research concludes that students experience the program in ways analogous to a stairway, which must be climbed, a doorway, which must be passed through, or a hallway, which offers opportunities for exploration along the journey. Some reflections on the use of phenomenography for this investigation are also included.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Masters of Education, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2015.