In an effort to increase the number of Indigenous Australians undertaking research degrees the University of Technology Sydney has developed a first-of-its-kind program to encourage and support undergraduate degree holders to undertake further study.
The Indigenous Higher Degree Research Information Program, developed by the UTS Centre for Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges (CAIK) and supported by Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, will launch with a free two-day workshop at UTS on 13 and 14 July.
CAIK Director Professor Michelle Trudgett said the initiative was driven by the centre's research into the experiences of Indigenous postgraduate students.
She said the first Indigenous Australian to be awarded a PhD was most likely Bill Jonas in 1980. Drawing on a range of government statistics, her research estimated that a total of 372 Indigenous Australians have graduated with a doctoral qualification in Australia since then.
While the number of research students from Indigenous backgrounds commencing PhDs has increased slightly over the years, PhD completion rates for Indigenous students have barely changed. By contrast UTS has recently seen increased enrolments in postgraduate coursework and undergraduate degrees.
"Despite representing approximately 2.5 per cent of the Australian population, Indigenous people are only accounting for 0.5 per cent of all domestic doctoral completions in Australia," Professor Trudgett said. "This means that we need to increase the number of Indigenous doctoral completions by a multiple of five.
"The Centre for Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges is committed to making a real difference in this domain. There is no excuse for the current levels of disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in terms of the completion of education qualifications in 2016 – particularly at the postgraduate end of the spectrum where the difference is most visible.
"We've developed a robust program which will provide people with a range of information about the application process and support available for people undertaking a master's or doctorate degree at UTS."
Over the two days senior Indigenous academics will deliver a series of lectures on research design, developing a literature review and Indigenous methodologies.
Integral to the application process, program attendees will be taught the fundamentals necessary to develop a research proposal.
The program is only available to Indigenous Australians and has a capped number of places. To register or receive further information, visit this page.