The Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy 2017 - 2020 sets a broadly ambitious agenda for achievement in Indigenous Higher education. Aspirational targets for access, retention and success of undergraduate students were established, with concomitant institutional commitment. There is wide agreement that Indigenous Australians with graduate qualifications can benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as contribute to future economic growth, international competiveness and national prosperity. Yet, the Strategy demurred on the topic of postgraduate outcomes, citing pipeline paucity both as an impediment to meeting post-graduate targets, and a reason for caution.
While the apparently intransigent issue of under-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at undergraduate and postgraduate level in Australian universities remains, the numbers of students enrolling is steadily increasing. This increase in enrolments, and to some extent completions, highlights a need for strategic investment to encourage talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to pursue and succeed in postgraduate and research degrees. Hundreds more Indigenous students need to enrol in postgraduate degrees to reach population parity. Now is the time for institutions to develop culturally relevant approaches to their higher degree programs which specifically address this under-represented group.
This presentation will draw on research undertaken through the Successful Indigenous Doctors project and the experience of building a successful doctoral pipeline at the Centre of the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges, University of Technology Sydney, to highlight some strategies for success.
Professor Susan Page is an Aboriginal academic whose research focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experience of learning and academic work in higher education and student learning in Indigenous Studies. Her current position is Associate Dean (Indigenous) and Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges, in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney. Susan has been an investigator on four Australian Research Council grants and in 2018 led the team which was awarded a national teaching excellence award, the Neville Bonner Award for Indigenous Education. She is on supervision panels for seven PhD students, including five Indigenous students. Susan is CAEPR PhD scholar.