Aboriginal university enrollment doubles, but barriers still exist

He said that’s why he asked the university to allocate 20,000 new college places to people “underrepresented in colleges”, including indigenous peoples.

Minister of Education Jason Ellinghausen

Over the past decade, Nearly 100 Indigenous scholars are Perkins Or study at one of the world’s most elite universities with the Roberta Sykes Scholarship.

Originally from Alice Springs, 23-year-old Taylor dropped out of high school and later tried distance learning through the School of the Air in Western Australia.

At first he found it isolating, but he began to realize that once he was distracted by challenging work, he could mostly ignore what he felt was racist about the education system. rice field.

Ultimately, he was the first in his family to attend college, transferring to the University of Melbourne to study law and then to Trinity College. There, indigenous liaison officers helped students feel safe, included and represented, he said.

Despite recent advances, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students still struggle with access to financial support, a lack of belonging, separation from family, internet access, and other factors that make attending college difficult. still face barriers to

Layla Smith, chief executive of the Indigenous Aurora Education Foundation, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students often have to use a “patchwork” of funds to complete their studies. rice field.

Layla Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Aurora Education Foundation for Indigenous Peoples

Layla Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Aurora Education Foundation for Indigenous Peoplescredit:oscar coleman

Financial issues are a key factor for those who drop out in the first year, she said.

She believes that the “social capital” that comes from knowing how to navigate college, which is missing when being the first member of a family to receive higher education, makes a difference and that it is This is why the educational center is “extremely important”.

“The good news is that Indigenous people will get a college degree and have the same employment outcomes as non-Indigenous students,” she said.

Inara Cooper, director of Marlap Barak (the Institute for Indigenous Development at the University of Melbourne), said the university has about 500 students who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and how many are there. said they are evaluating whether they can reduce

“We need to work to ensure that both Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders feel they belong in the university environment and that the university is a safe place free from racism,” Cooper said. said.


She said some students “choose not to continue their studies” because of racism. That’s why having a “cultural wraparound” was important.

Other universities are increasing representation, with Monash recording the largest number of Indigenous student enrollments in 2021. Swinburne’s Moondanitoombadur Center, established in 2018, has led the Aboriginal enrollment boom, which has increased from her 81 in 2014 to 1,048 in 2021. In 2019, the indigenous retention rate was 71.5% for her.

Staff representativeness is one of the key factors, says Cooper. Of its 9,451 staff, 139 were indigenous, according to the University of Melbourne’s annual report. By the end of 2021, RMIT will have a staff of 46 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. At Swinburne, 17 of his 2421 staff members are indigenous.

“The more indigenous people you have in your organization, the deeper and more valuable the knowledge, worldviews and experiences you bring to the workplace. It’s all good,” Cooper said.

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Aboriginal university enrollment doubles, but barriers still exist

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