Original Research - Special Collection: Africa We Want - Perspective from GJHHD

Exploring the resilience and epistemic access of first-year female students in higher education

Rekha Maniram
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 2 | a7803 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i2.7803 | © 2022 Rekha Maniram | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 June 2022 | Published: 13 December 2022

About the author(s)

Rekha Maniram, Department of Hospitality and Tourism, Faculty of Management Sciences, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa


The transition from secondary to tertiary education often presents many first-year female students with anxiety and emotional stress. Subsequently, poorly managing this shift may increase academic risk and compromise their academic success. While a plethora of studies contribute towards the phenomenon of resilience as a positive predictor of the learning experience of female students in higher education, other scholarly findings suggest the key role resilience plays in supporting students to overcome challenges, manage their wellbeing and ultimately acquire epistemic access. Moreover, there is a significantly burgeoning focus on the positive outcomes of the resilience of women in education, However, while many of the studies highlight gender as a noteworthy core construct, to date, little is known about the first-year learning experience (FYE) of female students and how they may negotiate epistemic access through academic resilience. Hence the main aim of this article is to explore what factors enable academic resilience and to what extent such factors influence epistemic access among first-year female students. An exploratory qualitative research approach was used to capture the learning experiences of 20 hospitality accounting first-year female students. Data were collected by conducting both focus group sessions and individual semi-structured interviews. The findings of the study identified four main themes. The findings of this article have implications for promoting gender equality and academic outcomes of first-year female students in understanding the risk factors, as well as encouraging the protective factors that enable their epistemic access.

Contribution: The article sheds light on how an intangible construct such as resilience serves as a vehicle for epistemic access, more especially for first-year female students.


Academic resilience; resilience; epistemic access; first-year student experience; protective factors; risk factors; first year female students


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