My place or yours? Building culturally appropriate environments for First Nation postgraduate students in Australia

Authors: Michelle Trudgett*, University of Technology Sydney
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Australia and New Zealand
Keywords: Indigenous, First Nation, postgraduate, space, place
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Astor Ballroom II, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

There has been recent discussion in Australia about how to best support the academic journeys of our First Nation doctoral students (Barney, 2013; Schofield, O’Brien & Gilroy, 2013; Trudgett 2011, 2013, 2014). The Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People has been pivotal in this space, identifying the need for universities to be meaningfully engaged and to consider Indigenous higher degree research students in their overall business plans (Behrendt, Larkin, Griew & Kelly, 2012). More recently, the Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy 2017-2020 notes that the number of Indigenous Australians completing postgraduate qualifications ‘remain very low, both absolute and relative terms.’ Whilst there are now conversations about how the Australian higher education sector can address this disparity, much of the focus is on supervision and financial support. Notably, there has been little investigation into the physical space provided to this cohort, and more importantly, how Indigenous postgraduate students identify with their academic spaces. Drawing on findings from an Australian Research Council funded study, this paper reports on the value of physical spaces to foster a sense of belonging, identity and collegiality amongst First Nation postgraduate students.

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