Strategic coordination of First Nations initiatives in the Faculty of Science and Health: Maximising impact on student success and academic staff cultural capability

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Abstract

This report is the outcome of a Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) project in late 2022. The aim of the project was to identify good practice at Charles Sturt, in relation to initiatives which benefit First Nations students and build staff capability for culturally safe practice.
Currently across the University there are a range of initiatives with a common focus on enabling success for First Nations students. These initiatives are core business for the First Nations Student Success team but in other spaces, initiatives have emerged ad hoc to address the needs of specific student cohorts, or as a consequence of staff identifying an opportunity for innovative practice. There is an identified need for a shared commitment to student experience, across the institution. Currently, however, there is a disconnect between student support services and Faculty staff who deliver subjects and have a day-to-day responsibility for the experience of First Nations students.

‘I think we silo areas instead of embracing them across the Uni more generally ... academic work and professional work. It often overlaps but the strategic work sometimes remains in silos’ (Ben Hunter, previously employed in the First Nations Student Success Team).

The value of this report is the identification of good practice at Charles Sturt, in relation to initiatives which benefit First Nations students and build staff capability for culturally safe practice.
Summary points are included at the end of each section, to highlight issues for further attention. Initiatives included in this report align with the ‘Student Success Commitments’ in the Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy 2022 – 2025:
•Universities have recruitment strategies for Indigenous students.
•Universities acknowledge the significant role Indigenous student support services play in success and resource these services appropriately.
•Whilst Indigenous Centres play a central role, there is a need to share responsibility across the institution and universities should have in place resourced mechanisms for student support across their institution.
•Universities target the improvement of completion rates of Indigenous students through the development of an institutional working group to determine the nature of the issues at the institutional level and to implement strategies to improve Indigenous student completion rates at their university. These strategies should include undergraduate, postgraduate, mature age, and remote area students.
•Universities support through specific initiatives pathways for Indigenous students into
university, and similar support programs for students to transition into higher degrees by research (HDRs), academic employment, and other employment opportunities (p.24).
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherCharles Sturt University
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

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