Indigenous students’ experience and engagement with support at university: a mixed-method study


  • Madeleine Benton Wirltu Yarlu, The University of Adelaide
  • Shane Hearn Wirltu Yarlu, The University of Adelaide
  • Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos University of South Australia



Aboriginal, higher education, Indigenous students, student engagement student support, success



There remains significant under representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australian higher education systems. A number of strategies have been implemented by governments and universities to best support Indigenous students within higher education that have produced varying levels of success in increasing participation, retention and completions. One key strategy is the inclusion of Aboriginal Education Units within universities. The current study aimed to examine students experience and engagement with a range of support services across university, in particular with an Aboriginal Education Unit. Utilising a mixed-method approach, data were collected from 103 students who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander at The University of Adelaide. Overall, students were most satisfied with support provided by family (70%) and the Aboriginal Education Unit (61%), followed by support provided by university faculties (49%), and the wider university (43%). The main reasons students were accessing the Unit was for academic and tutoring purposes, also rating tutoring as the most beneficial service provided by the Unit. This study highlights the importance of examining and evaluating enablers such as support mechanisms from the student perspective and has demonstrated the significant role Aboriginal Education Units play in the student experience, laying a crucial foundation for targeted support initiatives.


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How to Cite

Benton, M., Hearn, S., & Marmolejo-Ramos, F. (2021). Indigenous students’ experience and engagement with support at university: a mixed-method study. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 50(2), 256–264.




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