Indigenous participation in higher education: culture, choice and human capital theory

Author/editor: Schwab, RG
Year published: 1996
Issue no.: 122


Indigenous enrolments in higher education have risen consistently in recent years, though Indigenous students are still proportionally under-represented in Australian institutions of higher education. A close examination of recent enrolment and completion data reveals that Indigenous students are far more likely to enrol in the post-Dawkins 'new universities' and are less likely to be found at the pre-Dawkins 'research universities' than are non-Australian students. Indigenous students are also over-represented in enabling and non-award courses and under-represented in higher degree courses. Most Indigenous higher education completions are in the fields of arts and education, while Indigenous completions in business, engineering and science are low in comparison to non-Indigenous completions. It is suggested that these patterns arise not only from a history of educational disadvantage and a variety of structural obstacles, but they are also shaped by a range of culturally-based evaluations and individual choices regarding appropriate and valuable courses of study.

ISBN: 0 7315 1796 2

ISSN:1036 1774

Updated:  16 June 2009/Responsible Officer:  Centre Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications