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Snapshot of Indigenous experience at universities

The gap in the participation rates of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in higher education is steadily narrowing, the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Dr David Kemp announced today.

Releasing the study, "Indigenous Participation in Higher Education", Dr Kemp said there were real benefits for Indigenous people taking part in the higher education system.

"It is encouraging to see that Indigenous and non-Indigenous graduates have similar rates of success when seeking full-time work after leaving university. They also receive similar starting salaries," said Dr Kemp.

According to the report, Indigenous people have been under-represented in higher education, and have also been concentrated in a narrower range of courses than non-Indigenous students. They are also less likely to go on to postgraduate study.

However, these differences have steadily reduced following the adoption of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments in 1989.

"This latest trend is a clear indication of the Government commitment to increasing Indigenous people’s participation in all educational sectors.

"Recent changes in Government funding have also given universities an incentive to place more effort on improving Indigenous students’ progress rates.

"While these latest results are pleasing, the Government will continue to encourage universities to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," said Dr Kemp.

The report, which presents a snapshot of the experience of Indigenous people in higher education in 1999, as well as changes over the last decade, is the latest publication in DETYA’s Higher Education Division Occasional Paper series.

The report is available on the Internet at www.detya.gov.au

See also www.australia.org.nz

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