18 July 2013
The University of Newcastle enrols more Indigenous students than any other Australian university, new statistics show.
The University of Newcastle enrols more Indigenous students than any other university in Australia, new Higher Education Statistics released this week by the Federal Government show.
"The University of Newcastle's proportion of Indigenous students is 2.5 percent – significantly higher than the national average of 1.4 percent," Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Andrew Parfitt said.
"With 732 Indigenous students enrolled across the University, supported by our renowned Wollotuka Institute, the University of Newcastle's leadership in Indigenous education is helping to close the gap in educational outcomes for Indigenous Australians."
Government figures indicate that the demand-driven system of higher education funding is also succeeding in its goal of providing more Australians from low socio-economic status (low SES) backgrounds with the opportunity to attend university.
The proportion of students from low SES backgrounds enrolled at the University of Newcastle is 27.9 percent, well above the national average of 17.1 percent.
Professor Parfitt said universities played a critical role in increasing social mobility and improving outcomes for communities traditionally underrepresented in higher education.
"However, widening access does not mean compromising on quality. Analysis at the University of Newcastle indicates that for low SES groups there is just a 0.7 percent difference in success rates compared to all students, and negligible differences in retention rates, attrition rates and grade point average as measures of academic performance."
"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 on the quality and rigour of our programs," Professor Parfitt said.
"Preparation is key to this success. 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. More than 75 per cent of Newcastle students who complete an enabling program go on to undergraduate study at the University, and 11 per cent of students who enrol in study at Honours level have studied an enabling course.
"Newcastle has the support in place to help talented and motivated students from all walks of life gain entry and succeed at a University ranked in the top three percent in the world. The support we provide to students means that there is no trade-off between equity and excellence," Professor Parfitt said.
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