There have been numerous initiatives to increase access to higher education for those residing in marginalised locales in Wales. However, entrance in itself does not guarantee success and it is important for educators and policy makers to explore issues of retention. Classed and relational positionings often conflict with non-traditional students' education trajectories and sometimes contribute to their withdrawal from academia. In response to this challenge the current paper focuses on the accounts of non-traditional students in Communities First areas who took an undergraduate social science module with The Open University in Wales. Importantly, rather than reading these barriers to progression as students' individual difficulties, the paper considers how educational cultures can create and perpetuate disadvantage. Exploring students' accounts of pedagogy and administration, the paper focuses on online provision in distance learning and offers a range of strategies that could potentially improve the delivery of an Open University module and students' experiences in future presentations.