Best practice bridging: facilitating Indigenous participation through regional dual-sector universities
It is recognised that regional and remote Indigenous students are under-represented in both higher education and vocational education and training. While there is general agreement that bridging or enabling education courses and programs are important in lifting participation rates and potentially in encouraging mobility between the sectors, there is a clear lack of evidence underpinning their development.
An interdisciplinary research team comprising Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, Dr Pamela CroftWarcon, Dr Susan Kinnear and Ms Julie Mann from CQUniversity, along with Professor Steven Larkin from Charles Darwin University and Bonnie Chew from Federation University Australia is keen to explore how to increase participation rates in such programs and courses of study and the movement between the sectors.
Dr Fredericks says:
“We will be developing a best-practice framework for Indigenous bridging and enabling education programs, emphasising regional and comprehensive education settings. We believe that this will assist in increased alignment of funds for participation and student outcomes.
We as a team do not think that Indigenous identity needs to be compromised in undertaking training or education and seek to explore how Indigenous learning journeys can respect and grow cultural identity, whilst simultaneously developing study skills and education and training success. Moreover, we seek to understand and articulate broader interpretations of ‘success’ from the perspectives of the Indigenous student, their community, the institution and the government.
The research grant provided by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education will enable us the opportunity to focus on strengthening programs where the training and education builds on Indigenous qualities while offering greater opportunities in broader Australian society as a result of that training and education. We look forward to sharing the outcomes through a series of deliverables including a Roundtable gathering, final report, a video documentary and an Implementation/Ethos Statement for Indigenous Bridging Education (in the context of comprehensive pathways).
As the leader of this project, I am committed to ensuring that we seek not just to increase Indigenous participation rates but that we make a contribution in the process of developing dynamic, empowered Indigenous leaders for Australia’s future.”
Dr Fredericks’ project will conclude in February 2015, after which time her final report will be made available here on the NCSEHE website.
ABOUT PROFESSOR BRONWYN FREDERICKS
Professor Bronwyn Fredericks is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement) and BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) Chair in Indigenous Engagement at CQUniversity, Australia. She provides leadership to advance CQUniversity’s Indigenous engagement agenda and improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. In addition to this, Professor Fredericks and the Office of Indigenous Engagement staff work with Indigenous communities to identify ways to build their capacity in education, employment and general equality of opportunity, and then help them to achieve this. She holds numerous VET and university qualifications from a Cert IV to a PhD, and has taught in secondary schools, VET and universities. She is a member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (NIRAKN).