Australian indigenous students at university: How do we know them?

Year: 1998

Author: Luck, Jo

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Australian indigenous students' participation in Tertiary Education has recently been studied as a problem of group access to Universities and the benefits that derive from Tertiary study. This study reports a discipline specific exploration of the issues involved in low retention and non-completion of Australian indigenous students in their Business degree at one regional University.

Following up as many ex-students as possible and currently enrolled students with oral interviews, surveys and focus groups. The study attempted to give Australian indigenous perspectives a voice in explaining the factors that hindered their participation in first year and later progression in their study. There was a lack of recognition of the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. That the University dominant culture left space only for assimilation and or marginality and that Business was seen as a non-indigenous and static body of knowledge.

These broad findings might well be applicable in other university settings, and perhaps in other disciplinary areas. Central Queensland University has attempted to follow up specific findings in relation to increased support from indigenous people special attention to first year units and their teaching in the Faculty of Business. There is an obligation for university staff to develop a stronger awareness if the need for greater respect, reciprocity, inclusion of indigenous knowledge and skills.