Three ways to improve Indigenous higher education


Dr Wendy Ludwig

Dr Wendy Ludwig

A Charles Darwin University research team that examined the history of Indigenous higher education in the Northern Territory has proposed a set of three recommendations that should inform future policy.

Director of Operations – Office of Indigenous Leadership Dr Wendy Ludwig was a major contributor to the “NT Indigenous Higher Education Policy Review”, which examined the effectiveness of policies dating back more than 60 years.

“Essentially we wanted to identify which policies worked and which ones didn’t from Australia’s early policy approaches of assimilation and self-determination, through to today’s outcomes-oriented approaches,” Dr Ludwig said.

“This was in response to recognition of decades of research and program evaluations, and the persistent call from Indigenous advocates for the need to learn from history.”

Dr Ludwig said an exploration of Indigenous perspectives of “success” was one of the key aspects of the research.

“We explored how these perspectives related to definitions of success within policy and how these evolved over time. Many of the quantifiable metrics common in policy represent only part of the story; there are other community-focused outcomes that are just as important. Clearly the disparity has served as a barrier to the development of genuine partnerships between governments and Indigenous groups and communities in higher education policy reform.”

Dr Ludwig said the recommendations were targeted at government and the tertiary sector. They are:

  • that the Australian Government establishes and funds an independent National Indigenous Education Committee to consult and provide specialist advice to government on matters relating to Indigenous education at all levels
  • that the Northern Territory Government establishes and funds an independent NT Indigenous Education Consultative Group to provide specialist advice to the NT Minister for Education on all sectors of Indigenous education, and
  • that CDU and the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE) explore opportunities to collaborate more effectively, particularly in the field of research.

“We would like to see a greater Indigenous voice in the development of a forward-thinking policy framework that can drive change, and which coordinates investment and research.”

Dr Ludwig said the review was carried out by CDU’s Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Leadership in collaboration with BIITE. It is available online at W:  (see Key Documents).