An education expert says special measures should be taken for university students who are first in their family to attend.

First-generation university students are more likely to drop out than other students, according to University of Wollongong researcher Professor Sara O'Shea.

Even though half of all Australian university students are the first in their family to attend tertiary education, there is little support for their specific needs.

“These particular students often don't have anyone in their families or communities they can ask questions, so they lack that insider knowledge that is important to succeeding at university - especially in the early stages of their degrees,” she told the ABC.

“We've unpacked the university experience from the perspective of the families to talk about what they can do to help students and help them along in their journey.”

Professor O'Shea said 26 per cent of first-generation students considered dropping out in their first year.

“That is quite significant when you think about our normal attrition rates which hover at around 18 per cent,” she said.

“We need to welcome students who are the first in their families as well as recognise that this is a significant cohort.

“One of the key findings we found was how important family and community are to the students but often family members aren't sure about how to help their students.”

Professor O’Shea’s team has launched to help.