Mar 19, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Universities Australia (UA) wants to improve indigenous student enrollments across the country. For inspiration, they're looking to New Zealand.

Currently, indigenous Australians represent 2.7 percent of the national population and 1.6 percent of university enrollments.

While UA hasn't set a timeline, they announced that they'd like to increase indigenous enrollment by at least 100 percent. 

In New Zealand, Maori graduates have the similar employment opportunities and levels of civic engagement compared to other graduates. The philosophy? Indigenous graduates become indigenous policymakers and academics--giving more opportunities to indigenous populations.

New Zealand has achieved a "critical mass" of Maori scholars by offering culturally framed mentoring and support.

Australia wants to do the same, but has challenges that New Zealand lacks. There's no critical mass of Maori scholars. There are only 400 indigenous scholars across 41 national universities. 

To slow the cultural gap, Australia needs to create a critical mass, but faces a more diverse indigenous population than New Zealand's.

To achieve similar results, Australia needs to work harder than New Zealand. Enrollment caps are just one obstacle, compared to New Zealand's new "fee free policy."

In an article in Australia's Conversation, experts call for a need for a broader focus that includes indigenous priorities.

Learn more about studying in Australia and New Zealand.

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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