Enrolments (Access)

Your response to this area needs to address the following points:

  • strategies to improve access to university for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students;
  • scholarships, bridging/enabling support and outreach activities;
  • the rise or fall of Indigenous Equivalent Full-Time Student Loads (EFTSL);
  • the rise and fall of EFTSL of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from remote and regional areas; and
  • which strategies are directly funded by ISSP, partly funded by ISSP or funded by other university resources.

1.1    Strategies to improve access

Safe and welcoming environment

UNE provides a safe and welcoming environment for Indigenous students. This has grown our reputation as a university of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The School of Business and Law PEER mentoring program for all students was promoted to Indigenous students to engender a feeling of inclusion and as an academic support.

Oorala and the School of Health ran “Youth Development Day” – this outreach activity is a one-day orientation workshop providing interested Indigenous people with an introduction to the Bachelor of Nursing. The School also ran a Mentor Program for Indigenous Bachelor of Nursing students offering up to two hours of mentoring per unit/per week.

HEPPP projects – Experience Days and High School Leadership Camps

During the year Oorala ran 4 camps and 4 experience days for Indigenous high school students. The camps attracted 81 students and was support by $200,000 in HEPPP funding. The Experience Days attracted 66 students and was supported by $46,500 in HEPPP funding.

“Switched On UNE” – STEM program

The “Switched On” UNE Indigenous STEM Program embedded Indigenous cultural and technological traditions into mathematics education The pilot project provided opportunities for 38 Indigenous years 7-9 high school students to engage positively with mathematics by using Indigenous cultural and technological traditions as a means to explore mathematical concepts. It engaged local Elders and UNE staff from the Rural and Environmental Science discipline in a series of workshops based around an on-country experience. The program was funded through an external grant and was designed to:

  • make mathematics more accessible and appealing to students,
  • lead to greater uptake of mathematics in years 11 and 12.
  • show the pathway for students to enter courses in STEM disciplines at university
  • increase the number of Indigenous graduates who will have the capacity to pursue science-based careers in the future.

Student and Administrative Services

Two Aboriginal designated positions exist within the customer services and admissions team. These staff provide support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inquiries.

Rural Medicine

The HEPPP-funded Kruki Program was implemented in 2017 for the third consecutive year. The five-day residential program was attended by 14 high school students (years 9 -12) of Aboriginal background who were interested in studying medicine at UNE.

The Joint Medical Program has an Indigenous entry pathway through the Miroma Bunbilla Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pre-entry to Medicine Program hosted by UNE and the University of Newcastle. In 2017, we had one student commence medicine at UNE from this program.

1.2    Scholarships

Apart from Commonwealth Equity Scholarships, UNE offers a wide range of scholarships specifically for Indigenous students at UNE, both publicly funded and from private donors.

In 2017, Oorala began a collaboration with the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office to make available accommodation scholarships to Indigenous students at UNE.

The School of Business and Law’s Aboriginal Support Officer, in conjunction with the Oorala Centre, coordinated several meetings with potential scholarship providers from some of Australia’s major accounting firms to offer Indigenous scholarships in 2018.

The NSW Department of Education provides scholarships for students to teach in high Aboriginal student enrolment schools (known as the Enhanced Teacher Education Training Project), to address specific issues in working with Aboriginal children in schools and with their local communities. Each student must undertake a project with the local Indigenous community, local Elders and Aboriginal Education Officers in schools. This project, coordinated by the Head of School, must be approved by Oorala, to ensure cultural appropriateness, as well as sustainable outcomes for the students at the school and in the local community. Enhanced links were made with Oorala to provide local indigenous knowledge in a formal manner to the students involved.

Scholarships (2017 breakdown)

Student categoryEducation Costs# of students assistedAccommodation# of students assistedReward# of students assistedTotal $Total Students Assisted
From Regional/ Remote – undergraduate$44,829.0017$39,570.007.50  $84,399.0024.50
From Regional/ Remote – postgraduate$1,318.50.5$0.00-  $1,318.500.50
Undergraduate (non-regional/remote students)$3,296.251.25$0.00-  $3,296.251.25
Post-graduate (non-regional/remote students)$0.00-$0.00-  $0.00-
Other     -$0.00 


Value of Scholarships awarded by the university to remote or regional students in the 2016 academic year (Section 21(3) in the Guidelines refers)$229,905.50
Value of Scholarships offered by the university to remote or regional students in the 2017 academic year (Section 21(3) in the Guidelines refers)$220,000.00

1.3    Bridging and enabling courses

A total of 114 Indigenous students were enrolled in UNE Enabling Programs in 2017.
35 students were enrolled in UNE award courses who had come through a UNE Enabling course.

Program nameTarget audienceOutline of programOutcome
TRACKS Tertiary Preparation ProgramAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants (18 years and over)

Ongoing alternative entry program offered on campus and online through Oorala; Tertiary preparation assists Indigenous students to develop their study skills and their transition to mainstream UNE courses (TRACKS includes five core TRAX units and one undergraduate unit).

In 2017, there were a total of 74 students enrolled in Oorala's TRACKS program, comprising 52 commencing and 22 continuing students. 52 students were enrolled off campus and 12 on-campus.
Internal Selection Program (ISP)Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants (18 years and over)Ongoing alternative entry program offered on campus through Oorala; Testing and assessment for UNE course admission; applicants are either recommended for admission to their selected UNE degree or alternatively the TRACKS Program or other tertiary study options. From 2017 onwards candidates can take the ISP test at UNE Sydney campus in Parramatta.In 2017, 13 prospective students participated in the ISP program for admission to commence undergraduate study in Trimesters 1, 2 and 3, 2017.
UNE Pathways Enabling CourseAll applicants who do not meet standard entry requirements for UNE undergraduate courses and have not successfully completed any part of a university course.Ongoing enabling program offered online through UNE. It prepares students for admission to UNE undergraduate courses. Pathways includes two foundation units and two undergraduate units, with mentoring and additional tutorial support.40 Indigenous students were enrolled in UNE’s Pathways Enabling Course in 2017. 29 of those were commencing students.

1.4    Outreach activities

The School of Arts ran a practice-led honours-level research project in Theatre Studies. This included community outreach involving Indigenous Elders and creative practitioners, as well as a successful public performance supported and promoted by the School.

During 2017, the School of BCSS had the following outreach sessions:

  • Dr Jenny Wise led a criminology information session for 20 Indigenous high school girls as part of the Senior Girls Youth Leadership Development Camp on 24 August.
  • On 21 September Criminology staff held a ‘Meet and Greet’ lunch with Indigenous Criminology students.
  • Dr Natalie Thomas led a criminology information session for 35 Indigenous high school girls as part of the Oorala Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Junior Girls Camp, 1-3 November.
  • Dr Natalie Thomas and Dr Helena Menih led a criminology information session as part of Oorala Aboriginal Centre’s University Experience Days for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander year 10 and 11 students from local high schools on 13 December.
  • Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Linguistics, Margaret Sharpe, met with the Yugambeh Language Advisory Committee at the Yugambeh Museum at Beenleigh, Qld, in May to finalise the Yugambeh language orthography, and plan what should be covered in a last semester 2017 introductory course in classes in some schools on the Gold Coast, the traditional country of the Yugambeh people.
  • There are number of ongoing research projects with Aboriginal communities. For example, a participatory model of community engagement in collaboration with the Bourke and Enngonia Aboriginal communities. An informal session with community members was hosted by BCSS researchers.

School of Environment and Rural Science and the School of Science and Technology

A HSC Booster Day for year 12 students from rural and regional NSW was held. The Schools particularly encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to attend. Meals and accommodation were provided for students living over 100km from Armidale. The Schools provided intensive help to students with their HSC studies, a campus tour and hands on activities. 900 students attended this event and over 400 were accommodated.

School of Science and Technology

“Far Out Science” target audience is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from rural and remote areas and low socio-economic areas. The event targets both primary school (years 5-6) and high school students (years 7-9) and their teachers. Far out Science is a two day event held at UNE to showcase the wide world of science and to celebrate the fun, exciting and intriguing side of science.

School of Education

The Riddim & Poetry project aims to support Aboriginal school children’s engagement with school and nourish their literacy skills through rhythm and poetry workshops. The workshops, designed and delivered in collaboration with Beyond Empathy (a not-for-profit organisation – http://be.org.au/), focus on enabling students to use and learn the local Aboriginal languages spoken in the Armidale area. The workshops were implemented at Minimbah Aboriginal School in October and November 2017.

School of Health

The School of Health is a member of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) – the peak body representing Indigenous nurses and midwives in Australia. Each year CATSINaM holds an annual Professional Development Conference. In 2017, this was attended by Professor Kim Usher (former Head of School), an academic nursing lecturer and four indigenous nursing students.

1.5    Indigenous student numbers

Over the three decades since the Oorala Aboriginal Centre was established, UNE has been committed to the challenging and rewarding work of helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people find purpose and meaning in education.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Enrolments 2017

2017 saw the largest growth in Indigenous enrolments at UNE with a total of 879 having been enrolled in UNE courses, reaching 3.57% of the total student population – a 0.5 percentage point increase over 2016. Total EFTSL for Indigenous students at UNE reached 442.5.

student profile graphStudent Profile – prepared 11/12/2017 by UNE Corporate Intelligence Unit.

This is the 6th year of sustained growth in Aboriginal student enrolments.

This increase in enrolments is also reflected in post-graduate degrees with an increase of 35 enrolments (142 compared to 107). This may be an indication that Oorala’s work with UNE Research Services in attracting and better supporting postgraduate students is paying dividends.

It is also noteworthy that the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying on-campus continues to grow with 194 on campus enrolments for 2017, an increase of 32 over 2016. This continues the growth trend of on-campus students evident for the last 5 years.

Conversely, enrolments in Trimester 3 were almost exclusively online, with less than one percent of units taken by Indigenous students in Trimester 3 being studied on-campus. Overall, Trimester 3 saw an increase of 28% in the number of units attempted (753 compared to 590 in Trimester 3 2016).

Over the last two years the Oorala Aboriginal Centre at UNE has been primarily focussed on student retention and success. However, UNE has continued to experience a considerable rise in student numbers as well.

The rise and fall of EFTSL of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from remote and regional areas

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from remote and regional areas continued to grow in 2017, reaching 566 (302.2 EFTSL) or 64% of all Indigenous students. This is an increase of 17% over 2016.

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