UniSA Case Studies

Case study: University of Newcastle

University of Newcastle logoThe [xe] project aims to understand how Australian universities are developing initiatives to improve Higher Education study pathways for Indigenous students in the disciplines underpinned by science and mathematics.

To meet this aim the University of South Australia has undertaken research using a case study approach to examine 6 university exemplars.

One of the universities studied was the University of Newcastle.

Core features Engagement strategy: School engagement programs and pre-entry to medicine program
Student catchment: Regional NSW
Age-group: Year 4-12 and transition to university
Funding source: HEPPP funding
Outcomes High levels of retention of medical students through training to completion and employment.
Strengths Underpinned by a University-wide equity strategy. School engagement programs free to students with cohesive sequential activities starting early. Wollotuka Institute provides a rich and culturally appropriate supportive environment for students transitioning to university. Pre-entry to medicine: off-campus events to strengthen connections between students and staff. Strong focus on engaging with and giving back to community.
Challenges Sustainability post-HEPPP funding.

From the report:

The University of Newcastle employs a strategic ‘whole-of-university’ approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education which is consolidated under the one body, the Wollotuka Institute.

A range of school and community engagement activities has been developed to promote university study to Indigenous communities; some of these activities specifically target STEM.

The philosophy underpinning Wollotuka‘s initiatives (in STEM and other disciplines) reflects a strong and ‘very deliberate’ focus on engagement and community.

In collaboration with the University of New England, the University of Newcastle offers a five-year Bachelor of Medicine (called the Joint Medical Program).The University of Newcastle is highly successful in graduating Indigenous medical students, with ‘almost half of the Indigenous doctors in Australia graduated from UoN’

The attrition of Indigenous medical students has historically been of concern. Launched in 2012, the Miroma Bunbilla Pre-entry to Medicine program was developed to address this issue (Holliday, O‘Mara & Watts 2015, p. 24). The program has proven highly successful.

Full report: Strengthening Indigenous Participation and Practice in STEM: University Initiatives for Equity and Excellence (PDF) >>

Holliday, V, O‘Mara, P & Watts, A (2015) The Miroma Bunbilla Pre-entry to Medicine program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In O Mazel & C Ryan (eds) LIME good practice case studies, Volume 3 (pp. 24-30). Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education Network, University of Melbourne.

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