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The Forum > General Discussion > Indigenous University Success 2014 and social change

Indigenous University Success 2014 and social change

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10 % rise in Commencement and Enrolments, 9 % in Graduations what are the implications for Indigenous social change ?

In 2014, the participation rate at universities for Indigenous students rose a healthy 10 %. Commencements in Bachelor-level courses have risen by 110 % since 2005. Graduations have topped two thousand and the flow-through seems likely to kick that up to 2,500 in a couple of years, three thousand by 2020.

With age-groups (24-26-year-olds) around eleven thousand, close to 20 % of the 27-28-year-old equivalent age-group is now graduating from universities every year, and this rate is rising about 6 % faster than the growth of numbers in equivalent age-groups.

Two-thirds of Indigenous graduates still are women, and overwhelmingly of urban populations: it is likely that participation of rural and remote populations is declining, and has been since about 2000. So there's a couple of jobs there for Indigenous university programs.

Enrolments at some universities are approaching the thousand mark: Charles Sturt and Newcastle each enrolled more than nine hundred Indigenous students. Griffith and Deakin each enrolled more than seven hundred. 144 Indigenous students graduated from Charles Sturt alone last year.

Twenty eight percent of graduates were at post-graduate level, so that pathway is well under way: graduates with multiple awards are now common-place. So university programs are now freed up to focus on actively promoting and publicising their universities' courses to the male, and rural and remote, populations; and in preparing and supporting students from those backgrounds throughout their studies.

Total graduation numbers are now approaching forty thousand, a decent-size football crowd. That's one in every six women, one in every twelve men, across the country better still in urban areas. Fifty thousand graduates by 2020 now look pretty certain. And current (and even slowing) growth rates suggest that one hundred thousand graduates are likely around 2030, or soon after. On current population growth rates, they will represent about one in five or six adults still mostly women, still mostly urban. And mostly likely, from working families.

So what social impact might this mean ?
Posted by Loudmouth, Monday, 3 August 2015 6:46:47 PM
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Hi Joe,

The results speak for themselves, given the opportunity indigenous Australians can and do reach the highest standards in education, this in itself is not remarkable, any persons regardless of race, colour or creed, can achieve given the opportunity. What is remarkable is despite the disadvantage in indigenous communities so many can overcome and graduate from university.
Much more has to be done in remote communities to make education relevant for children from the beginning. Male students have to be made more inclusive within the system to want to achieve. The results are good but there is still a lot to be done.
Posted by Paul1405, Tuesday, 4 August 2015 8:27:09 AM
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Paul, the reality is that the best way to help people in remote areas, is to relocate them to less remote areas as the costs associated with providing services in the middle of nowhere simply don't weigh up any more.

Moreso, people's actions are questionable when they choose to raise children in remote areas where there is little to no prospect of them achieving. It's all about the end of the free ride in my view.

As I've said all along, all children worldwide have one common denominator, that being not a single one asked to be born. Parents choose to have children and responsible parents would not bring chikdren into such a surrounding, don't you think!
Posted by rehctub, Tuesday, 4 August 2015 1:39:19 PM
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Dear Joe (Loudmouth),

The following Aboriginal website may be of interest to you:

http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/education/aboriginal-students-in-higher-studies-at-university

The website tells us that Aboriginal students choosing higher
studies only make up 1.3 per cent of all students and are
likely to be older than their peers. Experts want to see
universities tap into the potential of Aboriginal organisations
to increase student numbers. Lawyer Larissa Behrendt says
that educating Aboriginal children in literacy and numeracy
skills at primary levels would help. Despite increasing
Aboriginal course enrolments and commencements Aboriginal students
completed less courses compared to their non-Indigenous peers.

They cite financial and academic reasons for leaving university.
Many also have children which in turn increases financial
pressure.
Posted by Foxy, Tuesday, 4 August 2015 2:50:46 PM
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Hi Foxy,

About 1.7 % of all Australian female students last year were indigenous: parity would be about 2.5 %. About 1.9 % of all Australian female commencements were Indigenous. Female Indigenous commencement were proportionately higher than those for non-Indigenous Australian males. Check it out: www.firstsources.info - higher education page.

Yes, of course, there's a long way to go, but my point, year after year, is that the figures are improving year-on-year at a greater rate, sometimes at a much greater rate, than those for non-Indigenous Australians.

I remember the seventies and eighties, when graduates numbered barely in the hundreds. So 38,000 seems to me to be something of an improvement. If the men had played their part, we would have the fifty thousand by now. One hundred thousand by 2032 - that should be a new target.

And of course, an enormous amount of work has to be done to connect rural and remote populations - and who should be doing a lot of that work ? Precisely the Larissa Behrendts of this world, the elites at the universities. They are in the box-seat to work their backsides off to form connections, pathways, between rural students and universities (the easier job), and between remote populations and universities (the much harder and much, much longer job). Who else is in the position to do that but Indigenous programs at universities ? Will they ? It's so much easier to pontificate.

I'm sure some programs are really trying - those at Notre Dame, James Cook, Charles Darwin, Deakin, Newcastle, Charles Sturt, Griffith, QUT, University of Southern Queensland - but don't expect much from the sandstones, or their staff.

Joe
Posted by Loudmouth, Tuesday, 4 August 2015 4:14:54 PM
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Hi Joe

the direction of the numbers is encouraging, though there's still a way to go. The pattern is similar with many other measures of indigenous wellbeing - many are improving, but most are behind the rest of the population.

http://www.pc.gov.au/research/recurring/overcoming-indigenous-disadvantage/key-indicators-2014
Posted by Rhian, Tuesday, 4 August 2015 4:26:06 PM
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