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Annual Indigenous Higher Education Update

By Joe Lane - posted Thursday, 19 November 2020

There is still an enormous amount of work to do in schools, to encourage Indigenous boys to push on with their education - their university enrolment numbers are persistently barely half of those of Indigenous girls. Indigenous students in secondary schools still seen to shun the STEM areas - Indigenous university students are disproportionately represented in Arts fields. Quite amazingly (at least to me) very few Indigenous students enrol in Conservation and Natural Sciences fields. But of course, there have now been many Indigenous graduates in all sorts of STEM fields such as Vet. Science, Podiatry, Physiotherapy, Accounting, Speech Pathology, and of course, Medicine: there are now perhaps more than a thousand qualified Indigenous medical professionals across the country.

Overwhelmingly, Indigenous university students come from urban backgrounds, since, after all nowadays, they are born and bred in the cities, and can be expected, like any other city kids, to seek employment in the cities. The wonderful work being done by many foundations has helped many rural and remote student to prepare for and enrol in university education over the last twenty years. But it is still a small trickle.

Until the first few years of this century, a large minority of Indigenous students enrolled in (perhaps one could say 'were channelled into') Indigenous-focussed courses, but those numbers have almost vanished since about 2005. Clearly, the increase in the numbers of Indigenous matriculants since 2000-2005 has correlated with the massive growth in numbers in standard, award-level, mainstream courses.


I look forward to the day when somebody from the Indigenous elites says something, anything, positive about Indigenous higher education.

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About the Author

Joe Lane is an independent researcher with a long-standing passion for Indigenous involvement at universities and its potential for liberation. Originally from Sydney, he worked in Indigenous tertiary support systems from 1981 until the mid-90s and gained lifelong inspiration from his late wife Maria, a noted leader in SA Indigenous education.

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