Tailored support for Indigenous university students

Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton has welcomed the passing of amendments to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 by Parliament last week.

The amendments, introduced into the chamber by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, will deliver significant benefits to Indigenous students, including those who study at Charles Sturt University Dubbo Campus, University of Newcastle’s Department of Rural Health in Moree and the University of Sydney’s Department of Rural Health in Broken Hill. The many Indigenous students from the region that study in Sydney and other locations will also benefit from these reforms.



Developed in partnership with universities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island academics, the Coalition’s reforms will help gear tertiary assistance for Indigenous students towards successful completion of university.

Minister Scullion said there had been an 85 per cent increase in Indigenous undergraduate enrolments over the last decade.

“That’s good news, but we now need to ensure that support is available to these students throughout their study that will help them all the way through to graduation,” Minister Scullion said.

“Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are 2.5 times more likely to drop out in their first year of university when compared to other domestic students.

“The $253.1 million (over four years) Indigenous Student Success Programme will provide more flexible support to help Indigenous tertiary students succeed in their studies.

Mr Coulton said the Coalition’s reforms would deliver better outcomes for Indigenous students studying at universities across Western and Far West New South Wales.

“This now means there is no nominal limit to the amount of tutoring hours Indigenous students can access should they need it. Funding will be used where it is most needed to get the best results for Indigenous students,” Mr Coulton said.

“Indigenous students studying in the Parkes electorate will be better supported and our local community can only benefit from their success.”

Background Information (not for attribution)

  • The Indigenous Student Success in Higher Education measure announced during the 2016 Budget will commence from 1 January 2017 to improve the way universities support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to enrol in, progress through and complete their university studies.
  • The measure consolidates $253.1 million in existing supplementary funding over four years from 2017 within a capped special appropriation under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA).
  • The Indigenous Student Success in Higher Education measure combines the Commonwealth Scholarships Programme, Indigenous Support Programme and Tutorial Support Funding into a single programme under a single set of guidelines.
  • Universities will be able to design their services to deliver tailored scholarships, tutorial assistance and other measures to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with the best chance of academic success.
  • Under the old model, funding arrangements targeted enrolments with low incentives for retention and completion of degrees. Universities would receive up to 70% of combined program funding on enrolments with only 30% paid on progression and completion outcomes.
  • The new formula based model is weighted evenly toward enrolment, progression and completion outcomes to increase the emphasis on supporting a student’s progression through university and completion of their degree once enrolled. Under this model, universities are encouraged to better use mainstream sources of funding to facilitate the success of Indigenous students.
  • Revised guidelines will strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander involvement in university decision-making, requiring universities to involve Indigenous governance or advisory arrangements in decisions about the programme.
  • Universities will be required to have documented strategies in place to expand their Indigenous academic workforce.

Further information is available at

Media Release November 16, 2016