This doctoral thesis presents the findings of a qualitative research project which examines the impact of university study on a group of twenty female and male mature-age students at the University of Newcastle, Australia, who have entered university via a non-traditional pathway. The students who are the subject of this thesis are in the second to final years of their undergraduate degree programs and have all faced significant hurdles in gaining university entrance and persevering with their studies. The majority have come from lower socio-economic backgrounds with little, if any, family history of higher education and little positive experience of prior study. Postmodern feminist theory has primarily informed this research, using a narrative method to gather the data, analyse the results and present the findings. This thesis describes the experiences of the twenty individuals, derived from their individual narratives. As such, it gives voice to their stories: their triumphs and achievements as well as their struggles. It examines the gender issues that are at work in the shaping of their experiences, including the ways in which gender affected the type and extent of help and support on which they could rely. It highlights the transformative nature of these experiences for each of the students in this cohort, as well as potentially the next generation, and makes some tentative connections between these individual experiences and the experiences of the wider mature-age university student population. The narratives that individuals tell are socially and culturally located. Hence it is likely that the experiences of these twenty students may reflect, at least to some extent, the experiences of other mature-age students within a similar culture. The findings of this research also highlight the important role that higher education institutions can play, not only in widening access to higher education, but also in encouraging and assisting students, from a diverse range of backgrounds, to participate fully in higher education and achieve their goals.