Growing Indigenous graduates in the health professions: a case study in decentralised student selection and engagement

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This case study research, informed by an Indigenous Research Paradigm, sought to ascertain the impact of a university’s decentralised health faculty Aboriginal engagement program. It involved analysis of health faculty and other faculties’ 2016–2020 student commencement, enrolment, completion, and retention data. The health faculty was more likely to have Aboriginal commencements in 2017 and 2018 due to a more equitable student selection process focused on applicant success factors and inclusive of Aboriginal epistemology. Other faculties’ Aboriginal commencement improved when a similar process was adopted. Excepting 2018, the health faculty was more likely to have Aboriginal completions and from 2017 onwards, Aboriginal enrolments. An increasing faculty retention pattern existed likely relating to earlier student engagement and planning. The decentralised model, led by Aboriginal people and supported by faculty and university, also provided processes for Aboriginal students, to crucially be, belong, and further grow as, Aboriginal people. With this presumably better positioning of graduates’ standpoints as Aboriginal health professionals to engage with healthcare cultural safety. This is important as health professions education is predominantly conceived by colonial paradigms which can promote assimilation. Despite improvements, inequities remained. Higher education should aim to graduate as many Aboriginal health professional graduates as possible to address healthcare inequities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-784
Number of pages14
JournalHigher Education Research & Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2023


  • Aboriginal
  • decentralised
  • health professions
  • higher education
  • student selection

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