Mar 21, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Universities Australia (UA) recently announced a bid to attract more indigenous students and faculty to Australian universities.  Over the next ten years, Australian universities will attempt to increase indigenous student enrollment by at least 50 percent—and ideally by 100 percent.

As per the Executive Summary of Universities Australia’s Indigenous Strategy 2017-2020, the major goal focuses on increased retention and success rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as students and faculty. 

If Australian universities meet these enrollment targets, UA hopes to see at least 6,500 additional Aboriginal and Torres Strait students studying for degrees by 2020.

In an ABC news report, University of South Australia Dean of Aboriginal Engagement and Strategic Projects Professor Peter Buckskin said, “We’ve got to ensure that Australian universities see Aboriginal cultures and perspectives as really important core business of the university.” 

Currently, indigenous students comprise only 1.6 percent of domestic student enrollments—which doesn’t match the indigenous working age population of 2.7 percent.

Last year, about 400 indigenous academic staff worked in Australia, and about 100 of them were associate professors or above.

Professor Buckskin commented in the ABC news report, that “higher education is not an easy space to work in when you’re in small numbers.” 

UA committed to several actions in the Executive Summary of their plan, including the improvement of the higher education environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people. 

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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