Embedding training and capacity building for Indigenous higher degree research students into the UOW research environment
University of Wollongong Education Strategies Development Fund
Duration: January 2016 – June 2017
Nationally, Indigenous students are under-represented in Higher Degree Research (HDR) programs. According to the Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (Behrendt et al. 2012), the number of Indigenous students enrolled in HDR, as a proportion of all domestic HDR enrolments, was 1.1% in 2010 which is well below the parity of 2.2%. It is widely acknowledged that there is a need to focus on research capacity building for Indigenous postgraduate students across Australia, with the aim of improving enrolment, retention and graduation rates (Moreton-Robinson and Walters 2011). Similar to undergraduate education, the critical issue is retention for under-represented groups in higher education. The Bradley report (2008) emphasises the need to create an environment conducive to building Indigenous research capacity in higher education. At the University of Wollongong (UOW) there are opportunities to improve pathways to HDR programs via undergraduate studies as well as to recruit students through successes in externally funded research.
Working in partnership with University of Wollongong Indigenous (HDR) candidates, HDR Faculty coordinators and staff of the Research and Innovation Division Office, this project aims to (1) identify best practice for recruiting, retaining and achieving successful outcomes for Indigenous PhD students and (2) produce an Indigenous HDR strategy to be implemented into the UOW research environment.
What we did
The project is being undertaken in a staged approach, focusing on the following three key activities:
- Document how faculties are currently addressing the recruitment and training of Indigenous HDR students at UOW;
- Review outcomes of training and capacity building for Indigenous HDR students at two Australian institutions that have developed successful strategies: the University of Queensland and the University of Melbourne; and
- Synthesise the findings to identify approaches to recommend to UOW.
These three activities will enable this project to produce guidelines for UOW, which if adopted would form a strategy for UOW that can be embedded across the HDR environment. The project will draw on national and international links to achieve these objectives and outcomes. It will also draw on the lessons learnt from engagement in initiatives such as the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network and the Global Challenges Program over the past four years.