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The Australian National University

Education Part 3: Tertiary education


Using a range of data—including the newly released Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset—this report presents a profile of Indigenous tertiary students and higher educational outcomes. An earlier report in this series reported improvements in the rate of Indigenous high school completion, both in absolute terms and relative to the non-Indigenous population.

This report shows that substantially more people who identified as being Indigenous were undertaking tertiary studies, or had obtained a post-school qualification, in 2011 than in 2006. Despite these improvements, the gap between the proportion of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with a post-school qualification of any type barely changed between 2006 and 2011; in 2011, Indigenous people remained substantially underrepresented at higher levels of educational attainment.

In more positive findings, although the proportion of Indigenous people in the 15–24-year age group embarking on university-level education was much lower than the proportion of non-Indigenous people in the same age group, those Indigenous students who did embark on university-level studies appeared to complete university at similar rates to their non-Indigenous counterparts. Their success rates gradually increased over time, in terms of the number of subjects passed as a proportion of those attempted.

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