Enrolment Rates for Higher Education Among Indigenous, Native and Underprivileged Students Are Increasing



According to multiple reports from the world over, the rate of indigenous students who are now pursuing higher education has improved quite significantly in the last few years. As education is integral for the development of all communities, wherever they might be located, this is definitely good news.

On taking a more detailed look at the relevant stats, facts, causes, assessments and estimated predictions for the near future, it is obvious that progress is indeed happening in some parts, although the pace and the magnitude of that progress is extremely variable depending on which section of the globe we are discussing.

A Brief Look at the 2018 Student Data Report from Australia

The official student data report from 2018, as made available to the general public in 2019, clearly shows commendable progress amidst multiple groups of indigenous and native students across Australia. The report contains data on all forms of education, including primary enrolment and middle school, so it should be noted that students from native Australian communities showed improvements in terms of not just numbers, but performance as well.

Unfortunately, the number of high performing indigenous students within the top NAPLAN quartile was not even close to being equal to the number of students pursuing higher education. The reasons for such a discrepancy will be discussed later, but for now, the following highlighted stats should shed some light on how much improvement has been noted within the Australian indigenous student community in terms of higher education:

  • After making a standard 4-year & 5-year comparison, it was observed that 32.5% and 45% more students from indigenous communities enrolled for tertiary education in 2018, as compared to 2014 and 2013 respectively
  • Whereas the number was only 15,043 in 2014, the total reached 19,935 in 2018
  • Between the years 2017 and 2018, the rate of university applications from indigenous communities increased by 3.3% (7,000)

Negative Findings from the Report

As previously mentioned, there was a large discrepancy between how many students from the native communities decided to join university, when compared to how many prospective students from the same indigenous communities made it to the top NAPLAN quartile. Reports indicate that only about 43% of them chose university, while 73% of non-indigenous Australian students made the same choice. The fact that the percentage of indigenous Australian youths willing to go into higher education is so low despite them having both the capacity, as well as the opportunity to do so, is certainly something that needs work. Primary reasons cited for avoiding university include:

  • Fear of discrimination, prejudice and harsh treatment
  • Fear of the government or the educational institutions themselves
  • Financial obligations
  • Family obligations
  • Belief that higher education would be a banal expense and not an investment
  • Opportunities to join a job and earn money immediately after school

As of 2019, it was recorded that university applications sent by indigenous students represented only 2.2% of the total number of university applicants. This is still an improvement over the previous years, but the figures are not impressive in this regard yet. For more details and updated information, check the official page here.

Online Education: A Major Contributor in Boosting Education Opportunities

Over the years, a lot has been achieved through efforts, plans and changes implemented by both governing bodies, as well as private and voluntary welfare associations. However, the availability of online education has played a huge role in helping those efforts bear fruit, by providing multiple new opportunities to native and indigenous students for pursuing higher education. There are several reasons as to why international higher education via online universities has worked out so well for native Americans and students from different nations and communities spread across the planet. Some of those reasons can be easily identified as shown next:

  • Higher education via online mediums does not cost as much as their offline counterparts
  • Family ties and financial obligations often force students into starting work right after high school, which is manageable if they study online
  • Thanks to the availability of online, international degree courses, students can choose to study under a different educational structure than their national system
  • Harsh treatment or discrimination is not an issue that students need to worry about while studying online

It is not just about high school pass outs from underprivileged communities either. Professional degree courses from reputed universities are now being rolled out online to reach professionals in countries where the education system is not on a par with international standards. For example, Aston University’s online Doctor of Business Administration programme holds international validity, and it can easily be pursued from anywhere in the world. It is one of those rare business degrees that provides an authentic opportunity to experienced executives, irrespective of their location, nationality or community.

Post completion, an internationally accredited DBA degree would certify them as a business management expert in the international market, opening their careers to a much wider range of opportunities in some of the most coveted locations around the world. Such advanced courses bring forth talent from the less developed sections of the planet so that they can start building an international career without the limitations of their present location and situation.

A Quick Look through the State of Higher Education Among Native American Students 

The condition of American native communities in terms of higher education is not very encouraging currently. Unfortunately, only about 19% of Native American students between the ages of 18 to 24 pursue higher education, which is extremely low. Surprisingly enough, only 41% of the entire population within the same age group are found to pursue tertiary education, which is also quite disappointing. It would be safe to assume that there is a lack of motivation/capability to pursue college education within the American youth as a whole, with native American youths being even less inclined towards college. If anything, interest towards higher education has even declined further between 2016 and 2019 among native American students. As this data shows:

  • 128,600 native American students joined university during the 2016-17 session, but only 120,200 of them were still enrolled during the 2018-19 session.
  • Postbaccalaureate enrolment from native American communities came to a total of only 13,600 during the 2016-17 session, while 13,700 students had joined the 2016-17 session.

There is still a lot of work to be done before the welfare of underprivileged students in even major nations such as the US can be cited as an excellent example. Nevertheless, the rate of progress is impressive in Australia, and hopefully it will continue to become even more impressive globally in a few more years’ time, thanks in no small part to both human effort and the advent of education technology.