Targeted initiatives to introduce Indigenous school and TAFE students to the business world are key to trebling Indigenous enrolments at the Australian School of Business in just five years.
It's an ambitious goal already producing results, with 20 current Indigenous students including 9 new enrolments in 2011.
The Australian School of Business has worked closely with
Nura Gilli, UNSW's Indigenous Education Centre, to attract Indigenous students through programs including the UNSW Indigenous Spring Forum which gives mature age indigenous TAFE students a taste of the business degrees on offer through a short residential stay on campus. One past participant, Steven Fogarty, is now undertaking a Bachelor of Commerce and has won one of only two Indigenous cadetships with the NSW Treasury for the length of his degree.
Retention of Indigenous students is equally important. The School's Learning and Teaching team delivers a range of academic development programs including tailored seminars and added support with study skills, coaching and mentoring.
"I am very proud of the work we have done to date and of the Indigenous students who are in the program and who have already graduated. They are the role models and the future leaders in industry or whatever area they choose to work in," says Professor Alec Cameron, Dean, Australian School of Business.
On May 19th, Professor Cameron hosted a lunch for donors that support Indigenous scholarships which gave five donors the opportunity to meet some of the scholarship students they support.
The success of indigenous programs at the Australian School of Business is made possible by generous donors and members of the wider business community committed to making a positive change, but there is still a long way to go. "To date few Indigenous people have taken up leadership positions in the Australian business community. It is critically important that this imbalance is addressed," says Professor Cameron.
Sarah Hyland, a current scholarship student, said to those present at the lunch:
"Holding a scholarship is much more than a pre-determined amount of financial support. Its effect is permanent and has indirect implications for everyone around you. Had I not been given the opportunity to come to University, perhaps my two younger brothers, who now also study at UNSW, may never have known what a higher education could offer to their future."