Australia’s first ‘bush university’ launched in Arnhem Land

25 September 2018


Macquarie University and South-East Arnhem Land communities have partnered to establish Australia’s first ‘bush university’ at the remote outstation of Wuyagiba.

The Wuyagiba Regional Study Hub will provide opportunities for remote Indigenous students to access university education and create a means for Elders to sustain high-level Aboriginal knowledge in the community.

A six-week trial of the Study Hub is underway, with the first intake of 25 students from Ngukurr and Numbulwar beginning a cross-cultural bridging course to prepare them for tertiary education.

The course combines traditional knowledge and transferrable skills including essay writing, computer skills, film making and translation from local kriol to English.

A new open-air classroom facility was constructed by locals to host the Tertiary Preparation Course classes, some of which are being taught by local Elders, Macquarie University lecturers and assisted by current Macquarie University students from Ngukurr.

At the end of the course, the students will have the opportunity to learn about university pathways and consider different study options in Darwin and Sydney.

“Increasing numbers of students in South-East Arnhem Land are completing high school, so the Wuyagiba Study Hub aims to close the gap in tertiary education in this remote part of the Northern Territory,” said Pro-Vice Chancellor Indigenous Strategy Dr Leanne Holt.

“This program has been guided and driven by Traditional Owners and Elders, as they know what their communities need and what will work.

“There is strong support from the community for the two-way exchange of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal knowledge and culture, which students will be able to bring back and apply in their community.”

From 2020, Macquarie University will explore the opportunity for a redesigned Bachelor of Community Management, which could be taught in alternating blocks on-Country and at the Macquarie campus in Sydney.

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Lucy Mowat

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