Indigenous Student Perspectives on Support and Impediments at University
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Aboriginal Australians are entering university in greater numbers than in past decades, yet many struggle to complete their degrees. This paper reports on the qualitative component of a research project aimed at enhancing understandings about this issue by investigating student perspectives about those structures that facilitate or impede their retention. Interview and survey data were gathered from 57 participants at one university and analysed for emerging themes. The findings demonstrate a diverse Indigenous student population in terms of age; comprised personal, professional and university networks; institutional services and resources; and the students’ personal qualities and study practices. Factors perceived to obstruct retention included: a lack of support from some teaching staff, schools and faculties; financial insecurity; and often interrelated issues surrounding university workload, jobs, health, as well as family and community responsibilities. These findings are discussed in the light of relevant literature and recommendations.
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