La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor John Dewar today launched I-Aspire, a new program that has been funded by the Alfred Felton Bequest, to support Indigenous high school students across Victoria to receive an early offer to study at La Trobe through the University’s early admissions program Aspire.
“The program builds on the University’s support for Indigenous students and staff, and our record of doing as much as we can to increase Indigenous educational access,” Professor Dewar said.
“For the first time this year 100 commencing Indigenous students have enrolled to study with us, taking our total number of Indigenous students to almost 300, a fantastic result.
“But there is so much more to do to close the gap in Indigenous education.
“Through I-Aspire we will support 50 young Indigenous people from across suburban Melbourne and regional Victoria to undertake university studies. Ten Indigenous students will be enrolled in the program from our campus catchments in Melbourne’s North, Albury-Wodonga, Mildura, Shepparton and Bendigo.
“We are very pleased to be working with the Alfred Felton Bequest on this important issue. The University will provide a supportive and welcoming environment so that Indigenous young people are empowered to strive towards university study. That is exactly what this program is set up to do.”
The Indigenous pathway program includes:
- An academic boot camp to help Indigenous students learn about University life
- A Cultural Immersion Program with community Elders to provide support and cultural direction for students
- One-on-one mentoring with senior peers
La Trobe established the Aspire program four years ago to recognise and reward students who have demonstrated community service and leadership with an early offer at La Trobe. The program has been remarkably successful - since 2014, the University has made over 4,500 early offers to Aspire students, and Aspire students have excelled in their academic studies.
La Trobe University has also reaffirmed its commitment to Indigenous education through several new initiatives:
- The Office of Indigenous Strategy and Education will offer the highest ATAR Indigenous applicant to La Trobe a VC Indigenous Excellence Scholarship worth $6000 (for up to 4 years).
- A new staff exchange program has been established so that La Trobe staff can undertake development programs at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in the Northern Territory, Australia’s only First Nations learning and research institution.
- Levelling the playing field. The La Trobe University Football Club, together with the Office of Indigenous Strategy and Education and DealCorp, will run a series of workshops designed to help equip Indigenous parents and carers with the knowledge and skills to prepare children for the VCE.
Professor Dewar announced the initiatives at the Hyllus Maris Memorial Lecture, which has been reinstated as part of the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
La Trobe has also just signed up with universities across Australia to support a landmark national strategy to lift enrolments and completion rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island students.
Photo: Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar congratulates participants of the Indigenous academic procession at the Hyllus Maris Memorial Lecture