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Mass Indigenous university education - a game-changer?

By Joe Lane - posted Thursday, 16 December 2010

Indigenous people experienced record participation in university education in 2009, improving 10%in one year, to ten and a half thousand enrolments. Commencements actually improved by 12% to more than 4,800, boosted by an 18% improvement in male commencements. These commencements mean that the equivalent of about 40% of the median age-group commenced university study in 2009.

Indigenous Participation of Median Age-Groups

1995 2000 2005 2009
Commencements 3623 3510 3771 4832
Enrolments 6805 7350 8370 10465
Graduations 863 1031 1205 1406

[Source: DEST/DEEWR Higher Education Statistical Collections, 1996-2010]

Since 1990, around seventy thousand Indigenous people have been enrolled at some time or other at university, about a quarter of the entire adult population.

As a percentage of the adult population (about 240,000 Indigenous people are aged between 20 and 59, but it was probably more like 200,000 back in 1995), they would look like this:

Indigenous Participation as percentage of the Indigenous Adult Population (aged 20-59)

1995 2000 2005 2009
Commencements 1.80% 1.67% 1.64% 2.00%
Enrolments 3.40% 3.50% 3.64% 4.36%
Graduations 0.43% 0.49% 0.57% 0.59%

[Source: DEST/DEEWR Higher Education Statistical Collections, 1996-2010]

We could also look at these figures in terms of relevant age-groups: the size of the median age-group in 2009 (around 24-26 years, i.e. born in 1982-1984) was about 8,000. In fact, the size of the median age-group did not increase much between 2000 and 2009, it fluctuated between 7,500 and 8,000, but will rise dramatically between now and 2015.

Indigenous Participation as percentage of Median Age-Groups

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About the Author

Joe Lane is an independent researcher with a long-standing passion for Indigenous involvement at universities and its potential for liberation. Originally from Sydney, he worked in Indigenous tertiary support systems from 1981 until the mid-90s and gained lifelong inspiration from his late wife Maria, a noted leader in SA Indigenous education.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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