9 March 2018

The Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) supports the proposal to exempt indigenous students in Australian universities from limits on student enrolments.

“The Commonwealth Government’s decision to freeze university funding for undergraduate places – reducing university funding by $2.1 billion - has the potential to hinder the national effort to increase indigenous enrolments,” said ATN Executive Director Renee Hindmarsh.

“Although we are close to meeting the Bradley Review national participation targets, there is a stark difference between indigenous and non-indigenous participation rates,” said Ms Hindmarsh

Indigenous students are much less likely to undertake higher education study accounting for only 1.2 per cent of enrolments despite making up 3 per cent of the Australian population.

“Access to education is paramount to support productivity and wage growth and the freeze on funding may limit the resources available to universities to support increased enrolments from groups who are under-represented – it runs the risk of placing indigenous students at a further disadvantage,” said Ms Hindmarsh.

The ATN has long advocated that Australia should have a sustainable, world‐class higher education system that remains affordable and accessible to all who are eligible, regardless of background or circumstance.

“It is for that reason we are suggesting that indigenous enrolments be exempt from the funding freeze”, said Ms Hindmarsh.

“Exempting indigenous students would send a very powerful message about the importance of improving indigenous participation in higher education. It is critical that Australia is accountable and assertive in closing the gap for indigenous students,” said Ms Hindmarsh.