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Minister Scullion: Tailored support for Indigenous university students
Parliament has today passed amendments to the Higher Education Support Act 2003, to improve support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at university.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said that there had been an 85 per cent increase over the last decade in the number of Indigenous undergraduate students enrolled in university. However, retention and completion rates significantly lag behind those of other domestic students.
“Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are 2.5 times more likely to drop out in their first year of university when compared to other domestic students,” Minister Scullion said.
“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students that successfully complete higher education, there is no employment gap when compared to other Australians. In fact, the results are even better for Indigenous women with a degree who statistically have a higher employment rate than their non-Indigenous counterparts.”
Minister Scullion said the legislation would help implement the new Indigenous Student Success Program, consolidating three separate support measures into a single comprehensive programme.
“From 2017, the $253.1 million (over four years) Indigenous Student Success Programme will provide greater flexibility to help Indigenous tertiary students to succeed in their studies. Critically, it will also enable universities to provide more tailored support to suit the diverse needs of individual students,” Minister Scullion said.
“These reforms have been developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics and universities to ensure a holistic approach to supporting students. We know the focus needs to shift from enrolments, to also lifting retention and completion rates.
“We will continue to work in partnership with universities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to roll out these reforms.”