University of Newcastle Awarded $200,000 To Improve Indigenous Participation In Business Schools

The University of Newcastle has been awarded a $200,000 grant to build an evidence base of improved business school strategies to boost Indigenous student enrolment and retention.

Last year management and commerce courses, like all fields of education, marginally improved their percentage of Indigenous students.

However, their levels are still well below participation rates that would reflect the three percent of Australians who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme (HEPPP) funding will support research to improve Indigenous participation, retention and success in Australian business-related higher education, particularly for those from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Morris-Altman-NewsThe University of Newcastle Business School Dean and Chief Project Researcher, Professor Morris Altman (pictured) said the under-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Business Schools reduced the “capabilities and opportunities for Indigenous population to succeed in contemporary Australian society”.

All 40 Australian universities offer business programs yet Indigenous participation is under researched.

“It is not enough to find ways to get Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enrolled, we must do our best to ensure progression, completion, and success,” Professor Altman said.

During this Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC)-supported project, led by Newcastle University, researchers and practitioners will work with partner business schools, community members and leaders to identify strategies to improve active student participation and success.

The 18-month project will analyse demographic data collected by Australian universities to establish the participation and success rates in business schools and across Australian business-related higher education in general.

The project will use a mixed-methods approach to:

  • Identify current effective strategies and initiatives at national and international universities
  • Develop strategies and initiatives for Australian Business Schools to address barriers
  • Establish a Community of Practice comprising key stakeholders, including Business School academic and professional staff, Indigenous students, Indigenous communities and business groups.
  • Develop impact indicators to determine how Business Schools are meeting effective participation and success targets for low socio-economic status Indigenous students.

Deliverables include a series of reports and academic papers; development of, and recommendations on, tested effective, innovative strategies and initiatives; and impact indicators.

Percentage of Indigenous Domestic Higher Education Students

  2014 2015
All Fields of Education 1.41% 1.47%
Education 2.01% 2.08%
Society and Culture 1.70% 1.78%
Health 1.58% 1.60%
Creative Arts 1.30% 1.51%
Management and Commerce 0.84% 0.92%
Information Technology 0.77% 0.87%
Natural and Physical Sciences 0.80% 0.83%
Architecture and Building 0.68% 0.76%
Engineering and Related   Technologies 0.57% 0.60%
Food, Hospitality and Personal   Services 0% 0%

[1] ABDC analysis based on Department of Education and Training data, 2015 first half year student summary tables and Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2011 Census.

Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (