September 4, 2018

Indigenous students’ success program review: IRU submission

The IRU has submitted a response to the Government’s recent discussion paper on the revamped Indigenous Student Success Program (ISSP).

The IRU supports the aim of the revamped ISSP to give universities greater flexibility to use the funds allocated to achieve the best outcomes for their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Australian universities have strikingly increased their enrolment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from 11,000 students in 2010 to 17,800 in 2016, with a further increase likely in 2017 data once released.

The Government’s freeze on the major support for educating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, the Commonwealth Grant Scheme, will make further increases that much more difficult.

The ISSP program helps support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in addition to the Commonwealth Grant Scheme funds they generate.

With an annual increase of 1700 indigenous students in the most recent year, the funds available per student are steadily reducing and will in time be insufficient to meet the purposes of the program.

Therefore, the IRU recommends:

  • ISSP funding increase in line with numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students so that the average funds available maintains value.

In response to the three main purposes of the review:

  • the ISSP’s transitionary measures have been successful in ensuring smooth transition to the new scheme. The IRU has modelled (see table below) the impact of the 15% safety net for the ISSP allocations year to year based on data for the three main drivers at weighting of 33.3% rather than 30%. We do not have the data for remote students that drives 10% of the allocaIRU submission to the ISSP post-implementation review Aug 18ion nor can we allow for funds quarantined for past scholarship allocations. The modelling shows the long-term relevance of the safety net. The universities affected in our modelling tend to be subject to balancing big increases and decreases, hence the safety net serves to keep some regularity across three to four years
  • there is limited risk of any unanticipated consequences resulting from the design of the ISSP
  • the IRU members have been active in sharing practices for the use of ISSP through a range of formal and informal networks.

Read the IRU’s full submission