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Receiving culturally appropriate support at university


Middle aged man sits at a table with flags in the background and a large monitor on the wall. He wears glasses and a blue shirt. He holds a paper document in his hand and on the table in front are books, pens and a laptop computer.
Patience Thoms Indigenous Australian (Honours/Postgraduate) Scholarship awardee, Alan Fenwick (Photo courtesy of Griffith University - GUMURRII Unit)
11 Sep 2019

Getting extra support at university can mean the difference between success and failure, especially when you start your degree late in life like Gubbi Gubbi man Alan Fenwick.

‘Coming to Griffith for me was a wise decision,’ Alan said.

‘I found the GUMURRII Student Support Unit and the readily available support from everyone at Griffith [University] an unexpected boost to both my learning and my general wellbeing.’

‘I greatly appreciate the help, comradeship I have received. Going into GUMURRII at my campus feels like going to visit family and friends who provide a safe positive environment for learning.’

GUMURRI provides a range of services including tutoring, mentoring, culturally safe spaces, and learning environments which help students study in a way that best suits them.

‘I encourage any member of the community to gain a higher education,’ Alan said.

‘I entered Griffith University graduating with my Bachelor of Education at age 54. I have never found it easy. It has been hard work, but I am rewarded each day with new knowledge and a sense of achievement. My life and circumstances have been enriched through gaining further education.’

Now 61 years old, Alan has just been awarded the Patience Thoms Indigenous Australian (Honours/Postgraduate) Scholarship.

‘I believe I am the first of my generation in my extended family to undertake post graduate Studies,’ Alan said.

‘Five members of my family have teaching degrees apart from myself. I am currently undertaking my Master of Education Leadership Social Transformation and Policy.  I am planning to continue to a Doctor of Education if able.’

The National Indigenous Australians Agency provides supplementary funding to universities through the Indigenous Student Success Program to encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to take on the demands of university and graduate with degrees which will lead to satisfying careers.

Find out more

The Indigenous Student Success Program supports universities to offer scholarships, tutorial assistance, mentoring, safe cultural spaces and other personal support services. The flexibility of the ISSP assists universities to tailor their services to match student needs.

ISSP funding is particularly prioritised towards the support of Indigenous students who are financially disadvantaged and/or from remote and regional areas.

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