Southern Cross University is partnering with universities across Australia to support a landmark national strategy to lift the university enrolment and completion rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Under the plan, universities across Australia will work together as they strive to grow the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled by 50 per cent above the growth rate of non-Indigenous students.
The Universities Australia’s Indigenous Strategy 2017-2020 also sets a target of equal success and completion rates for Indigenous students to non-Indigenous students in the same fields of study over the next decade.
"Southern Cross has a broad and deep commitment to this area — and has, for example, one of a very small number of doctoral programs in Indigenous Knowledge in the world,” Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker said.
“We are proud to give this national initiative our strongest support.”
Southern Cross University has one of the highest percentages of Indigenous enrolments in Australia, with an Indigenous participation rate of 4.1 per cent. Across the university sector, Indigenous people comprise only 1.6 per cent of university domestic student enrolments nationally – up from 1.2 per cent a decade ago.
Undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Indigenous Knowledge, Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing are offered through the University’s Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples.
Southern Cross University has also been a strong supporter of the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME). It had the best Year 12 transition rate of any university in the country with 58 of the 59 Indigenous high school graduates going into university, formal training or fulltime work (2015 Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience annual report).
Universities Australia said achieving the targets would rely on strong partnerships between universities, Indigenous communities and government – with everyone contributing to the shared goal. Continued funding for the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) will also crucial.
The strategy was developed in close consultation with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium (NATSIHEC).
The consortium’s Chair, Professor Peter Buckskin – a Narungga man from South Australia – said he saw the strategy as a way to make Indigenous success core business in higher education.
“Aspiration and substance are crucial to this endeavour. We will work together to ensure that the promise of the Indigenous Strategy has tangible outcomes,” he said.
The strategy will be launched at the Universities Australia Higher Education Conference dinner at the Great Hall in Parliament House tonight.
Speakers at the event include Kungarakan Elder and University of Canberra Chancellor Dr Tom Calma, acclaimed film director and Arrernte woman Rachel Perkins, and Gumbaynggirr woman and Melbourne University PhD student Lilly Brown.
Photo: Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker.
Media contact: Brigid Veale head of Communications and Publications Southern Cross University, 66593006 or 0439 680 748.