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"Let's yarn about uni": Conversations around the Indigenous student university experience

Tanoa, A. (2022) "Let's yarn about uni": Conversations around the Indigenous student university experience. In: 37th Annual Research Forum. Western Australian Institute for Educational Research (WAIER), 6 August 2022, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle.


32% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students leave within their first year at university. Of these students, 18.4% never return (DESE, 2021). The first year of university is a vulnerable time for all students, especially those from non-traditional backgrounds. Literature indicates that Indigenous students leave university because of financial commitments, familial pressure, career advancement, and notions of stability. However, there is limited data in Australia, and globally, around why Indigenous students leave within their first year. Likewise, past research tends to frame leaving university prematurely as an abject failure, whereas student narratives suggest that Indigenous people can achieve success independent of a university degree. I will present two studies on conceptualising and supporting Indigenous student success. First, I will describe an innovative undergraduate enabling unit that offers academic coaching to Indigenous students, where students value relational support and accountability. Secondly, I will present a research proposal on an appreciative inquiry study that will capture lived experiences of Indigenous students who left in their first year of university. This study will collect data through yarning with previously enrolled Indigenous students: those who left within their first year and those who continued studying. The study proposal will include an overview of the project undertaken by a Masters student and will reveal research purposes, Indigenous research methodology, literature review and data collection.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre
Conference Website:
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