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Initiatives of Australian Public Universities to Increase Indigenous Australian Student Enrolment in and Completion of Science courses: A Case Study


Guerzoni, MA and Kuit, T and Leon de la Barra, BA and Taylor, F, Initiatives of Australian Public Universities to Increase Indigenous Australian Student Enrolment in and Completion of Science courses: A Case Study, The Australian Council of Deans of Science, Australia (2019) [Contract Report]

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The Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) engaged the University of Tasmania to undertake a study of the initiatives currently exercised by Australian universities to recruit Indigenous students into science courses and, once enrolled, to support them through to completion. In light of the increasing emphasis on holistic support (i.e. faculty-level and university-level) for Indigenous students, this pilot study, run from the University of Tasmania’s College of Sciences and Engineering in collaboration with the University of Wollongong, sought to examine how such recruitment and support initiatives were operative on a faculty-level in Australian universities.

In June 2019, invitations to an on-line survey were sent to the 37 member institutions of the ACDS, both the student admissions department (survey later discontinued, see below) and the science colleges/faculties/departments. The focus of the second survey was to understand how the university’s science college/faculty/department engaged towards Indigenous students in the following areas: recruitment; enrolment support and pathways; degree/course support; graduation and scholarships, and; research recruitment and training. Of the contacted institutions, 11 responded and took part in the survey. Responses were then re-presented in tables to undertake comparative analysis between the initiatives of participant institutions.

The results demonstrate that initiatives to engage, recruit, retain and graduate Indigenous students largely do not operate at the college/faculty/department level. Instead, such initiatives are run at the university-level by specific departments (e.g. student admissions, scholarships and bursaries) or are led by the university’s specialist Indigenous support unit. Where the science college/faculty/department was found to be involved in engagement and support initiatives, this tended to be at the recruitment stage through the provision of school-visitation and mentoring programs.

The report concludes with a set of recommendations to the ACDS and its member institutions to address the shortcomings highlighted within this study. These recommendations entail the formulation and implementation of recruitment and support initiatives for Indigenous students, run by the member colleges/faculties/departments themselves, guided by counsel acquired through consultation with Indigenous communities, Indigenous support units and Indigenous graduates. It is hoped that this report will assist in the increase in the enrolment, retention and graduation of Indigenous students in undergraduate, postgraduate and research science degrees.

Item Details

Item Type:Contract Report
Keywords:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, STEM
Research Division:Indigenous Studies
Research Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education
Research Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curriculum and pedagogy
Objective Division:Indigenous
Objective Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education
Objective Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Guerzoni, MA (Dr Michael Guerzoni)
UTAS Author:Leon de la Barra, BA (Dr Bernardo Leon de la Barra)
UTAS Author:Taylor, F (Miss Felicity Taylor)
ID Code:138890
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Engineering
Deposited On:2020-05-08
Last Modified:2020-05-11

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