Charles Darwin University (CDU) passes a milestone today when it graduates its 1000th Indigenous higher education student.
Indigenous students make up more than 10% of the 1179 graduates at the ceremonies, which will be held at the Darwin Convention Centre.
Since 1996 when identifying records began to be kept, today’s graduates take the total number of Indigenous people who have graduated from CDU to 1025 in higher education and 12,103 in vocational education and Training (VET).
Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said the university was playing a vital role in helping to address the educational disadvantage experienced by Indigenous people.
“Many of our students are first in their families to attend higher education and for them to be successful they need a learning environment that they can have a personal connection with and allows them to feel comfortable and valued. We strive to deliver this at CDU,” Professor Maddocks said.
Almost seven per cent of CDU higher education students are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander with figures rising to near 30% in VET. More than 14% of CDU’s higher education students are from a low social economic status.
Professor Maddocks said these figures were celebrated by CDU.
“Universities are part of the community in which they operate. They should strive to be part of the solution to disadvantage and do their best to break down barriers that hold people back from learning and advancing their lives,” he said.
“We have developed practical measures and strategies to create pathways for Indigenous students and to increase their participation in learning – particularly in the area of encouraging Indigenous VET students to transition into higher education.”
As well as more than 1000 undergraduate students being recognised at today’s graduation ceremonies, 22 PhDs will be awarded. These PhD candidates have conducted research projects ranging from Indigenous health and education to improving justice outcomes for Aboriginal people.
Former Chair of the CDU Foundation, Deborah Fracaro will be recognised at the ceremony with the title of Companion of the University. Her work developing strong relationships, expanding membership and increasing donations to the Foundation during her tenure will be recognised with the honorary title.
Professor Maddocks offered his congratulations to all the graduating students.
“Today is about their achievements and hard work. I trust the students’ time at CDU will open new opportunities and lead to new and bright futures,” Professor Maddocks said.