Indigenous higher education
Universities Australia acknowledges and celebrates the knowledge and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. As the first inhabitants of this land, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been learning and teaching about the world and country for millennia. We acknowledge the continuing role of stewardship of culture and country that rests with Indigenous peoples and pay our respects to Elders past and present.
Universities Australia works with its member universities including through the UA Board, Plenary and Deputy Vice-Chancellors Committees, government agencies, Indigenous higher education bodies and other stakeholders to support the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in and through universities.
Australian universities undertake a range of initiatives to support higher education participation and success of Indigenous students and staff. To frame, support and guide this work Universities Australia has, in partnership with member universities, developed the UA Indigenous Strategy.
UA Indigenous Strategy
The UA Indigenous Strategy 2017-20 was the first sector-wide initiative that brought all member universities together to achieve common goals to advance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation and success in higher education.
Much was achieved under the first Strategy. Indigenous enrolments grew year on year, Indigenous advancement strategies appeared more in central university policy documents, there was growth in senior Indigenous staff representation.
However, there is more work to be done. Indigenous student completion rates still lag well behind non-Indigenous students, staff numbers are not commensurate with population ratios, and racism continues to undermine advancement.
The new UA Indigenous Strategy 2022-25 shifts the focus from aspiration to implementation with actionable commitments outlined under five key themes.
- Student success
- Staff success
- University responsibility for Indigenous advancement
- Racism and cultural safety
- Recognising the value Indigenous people and knowledges bring to the university and embedding Indigenous value systems and knowledges into university structures.
The development and implementation of this Strategy is led by Indigenous leaders in universities through the Deputy Vice Chancellor/ Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous Committee.
The UA Indigenous Strategy 2022-25 can be accessed here.
The UA Indigenous Strategy 2017-2020 can be accessed here.
Indigenous Strategy Annual Report
Progress against the Indigenous Strategy is reported on annually, with reports published on the UA website. The Indigenous Strategy Annual Report is comprised of key government data and an annual survey of members reporting on their progress against the Indigenous Strategy commitments.
The First Annual Report can be accessed here.
The Second Annual Report can be accessed here.
The Third Annual Report can be accessed here.
The Fourth Annual Report can be accessed here.
Deputy Vice Chancellor /Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous Committee
In February 2021 the UA Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) /Pro Vice Chancellor (PVC) Indigenous Committee was established. The Committee is comprised of either the DVC or PVC Indigenous from each member university, or where that university does not have a DVC or PVC Indigenous, the most senior Indigenous staff member in an Indigenous-specific role. The Committee has an Executive group comprised of six elected members with the inaugural Chair being Professor Bronwyn Fredericks PVC Indigenous Engagement at the University of Queensland and the inaugural Deputy Chair Professor Michelle Trudgett DVC Indigenous Leadership at Western Sydney University.
The Committee and its Executive advises the UA Directorate on all matters relating to Indigenous advancement. The DVC/PVC Committee was integral in the development of the new Indigenous Strategy 2022-25 and is central in its implementation providing essential advice to UA.
PARTNERSHIP WITH NATSIHEC
Universities Australia and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium (NATSIHEC) have forged a strong and effective partnership over many years.
UA regularly engages and consults with NATSIHEC through a variety of mechanisms to inform UA’s ongoing efforts – along with its member universities – to improve Indigenous higher education success.
Further information on NATSIHEC is available on their website.