Aboriginal Participation in Higher Education at a Regional University Campus; Policy, Place and People

Wednesday, 3 July 2019
Lyn Farrell

Despite significant policy changes and countless reports and reviews, addressing the need to widen participation in higher education in Australia, over the last few decades, there is still significant underrepresentation of Aboriginal people participating in higher education. This presentation outlines research that explores Aboriginal participation in higher education through gaining Aboriginal perspectives on engagement strategies, both pedagogical and administrative, that can have a positive effect on Aboriginal participation and involvement in a regional university campus environment. The doctoral research, undertaken by a Dean of a regional university campus, addresses the overarching research question: “What strategies can be effective in enhancing the experience of Aboriginal students in a regional higher education campus?” Policy, Place and People are three areas that emerged for examination, from initial yarning sessions, when the research proposal was being framed. A participatory methodological approach was used, with ‘yarning’ practiced as a culturally appropriate way to gather data. Importantly the presentation will cover the researcher’s attempt, as a non-Indigenous researcher, to ‘decolonize the research” by exploring the complexities of cultural intersection. The presentation addresses the need for research to serve the interests of Aboriginal people. By adopting an action research approach, it is an aspiration that the research process will be a catalyst for change at the regional campus. It is within researcher’s sphere of direct influence to promote change to practices and make recommendations for change to broader University policy.