On the back of figures released by the Australian Government indicating a national increase in access and participation by Indigenous students in higher education, the University of Newcastle is championing an equity and excellence model that is delivering strong results.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said the University had been a leader in access and participation in higher education for Indigenous students for more than three decades.
“In recent years, our enrolments of Indigenous students have grown more than 20 per cent.
“Today, our 645 Indigenous students are enrolled across each of our five faculties and close to half are studying professional programs including medicine, engineering, law, social work, nursing and education.
Professional education is key. The University has graduated about half of Australia’s Indigenous medical doctors and contributes the largest number of Indigenous health workers from its medicine, nursing and allied health programs.
“We are also building critical research capacity with 15 Indigenous PhD students working across a range of disciplines including medical biochemistry, nursing, behavioural science, management, social work and education.”
Newcastle’s proportion of Indigenous students is 2.4 per cent – almost double the national average of 1.35 per cent and the NSW average of 1.31 per cent.
“Newcastle’s successful model of equity and excellence is built on supporting people with ability and determination, regardless of their background, to succeed in higher education without compromising quality,” Professor McMillen said.
“To ensure widening access leads to success, we have developed an approach of enhanced support for students at every step of their studies. An important element of our successful model is our suite of enabling programs to help students to prepare for entry to tertiary study.”
Newcastle is the largest provider of enabling (tertiary preparation) programs in Australia. Approximately 85 per cent of Newcastle students who complete an enabling program go on to undergraduate study and 12 per cent of students who enrol in study at Honours level have studied an enabling course.
Enabling students make up almost 20 per cent of the University’s commencing undergraduates. In 2012, more than 2,800 students commenced an enabling program at the University.
“Access, participation and success are the result of hard work, commitment and a proven track record. Through our successful model of balancing equity and excellence, Newcastle is helping to build a strong knowledge based economy in which all Australians – regardless of background – can succeed,” Professor McMillen said.
Contact information: For interviews with Professor McMillen please contact Kate Robinson on 02 4921 5061 / 0408 115 467.