Education Minister Dan Tehan has released the 2019 application and offers data, which shows overall student demand is down in a stronger labour market.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said it was concerning to see overall student demand had declined – given a university education continues to be a clear advantage in the workforce.
But she said it was pleasing to see offers to Indigenous students had grown and acknowledged the many people in universities and Indigenous communities working hard to close the gap in higher education.
“The data shows us when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a university degree, it completely closes the gap in employment rates,” she said.
“A university education can be a powerful game-changer not only for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – but also for whole families, communities and the nation.”
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium (NATSIHEC) Deputy Chairperson Dr Leanne Holt welcomed the growth in applications.
“It’s great to see Indigenous enrolments keep growing. The number of Indigenous undergraduates has more than doubled over ten years. But Indigenous students are still only 1.8 per cent of all domestic undergraduates – well short of population parity at three per cent.”
“Although this growth needs to continue, it must be complemented by university environments that are conducive to positive Indigenous student experiences and completions,” she said.
“NATSIHEC will continue to work with the sector and with Government to enable more Indigenous people to get to university – and to complete degrees”.
In March 2017, Universities Australia in partnership with NATSIHEC launched the Indigenous Strategy 2017-2020 to lift university enrolment and success rates.
The strategy includes a target to grow Indigenous enrolments at double the rate of non-Indigenous enrolment growth. Since then, Indigenous enrolments are up 12 per cent, compared to 1.6 per cent for non-Indigenous enrolments.
In 2018, overall Indigenous enrolments grew 3.6 per cent to 19,935 students. Non-Indigenous student enrolments, on the other hand, declined marginally.
Between 2008 and 2018, overall Indigenous student enrolments have more than doubled, representing 1.9 per cent of Australian student enrolments in 2018 – up from 1.3 per cent in 2008.