Laying pathways for greater success in education for Indigenous Australians
Written by Bronwyn Fredericks, Carolyn Daniels and Susan Kinnear for The Conversation
“The more we’re going to get into these universities, the more we’re going to get educated, which means the more the … Indigenous communities themselves are going to grow and close that gap.” – A study participant in Rockhampton, Queensland.
Across Australia, Indigenous students consistently record lower rates of education at all levels than the broader population, as shown again in the latest Closing the Gap report.
So if we’re serious about addressing Indigenous disadvantage in education and seeing Indigenous Australians fully participating in our society and economy, what more can we do?
Our new Path+Ways research, released today by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, shows the value of building bridges into formal education.
You might have heard of “bridging”, “enabling” or, most commonly, “access education”. Those are all terms used to describe formal programs of study offered by tertiary institutions, in which learners can build study skills that will help them transition to formal study, be that vocational or higher education.
Anecdotally, universities already know that access education is incredibly important in lifting Indigenous participation rates. Communities and Indigenous students have seen how they help too:
“Supporting [access education] allows people in rural and remote communities to access this support to get them into university, we need more Indigenous students … coming out of universities with degrees.” – A study participant in Darwin, Northern Territory.
However, despite the considerable efforts by some universities to offer access education, there has been a clear lack of evidence underpinning the programs.