This article focuses on the interviews conducted with participants in the Australian Generations Oral History Project who were the first in their family to enrol in tertiary education in the 1970s and 1980s. It examines how this group perceived the impact of the Whitlam government's abolition of tertiary fees in 1974, and the role of their families and secondary school teachers in the decision to enrol at a tertiary institution. Gender and ethnicity formed intersecting axes with social class in structuring both the capacity for further education and experiences once admitted to it. Yet class emerged in complex relation to the subjectivity of individuals interviewed for the project. Australian Generations interviewees reflected the failing resonance of the language of class in contemporary Australia, despite enacting these very categories in the explanations of their own life histories.