A Tertiary Residential College at The University of New South Wales
Shalom College offers AIEF Tertiary Scholarships to eligible students residing at the college.
Shalom College – 2016 Report
Dr Hilton Immerman OAM, Executive Director of Shalom Gamarada Indigenous Residential Scholarship Program
In August 2016, a landmark study, conducted by Sara Hudson under the auspices of the Centre for Independent Studies, was widely publicised in the media.
It examined the effectiveness of the many Indigenous programs run by the federal and state governments and the not-for-profit sector – programs for which the total annual expenditure is $6 billion!
Tragically, the research findings demonstrate that the vast majority of these have not delivered positive outcomes. Various reasons are suggested, including:
- the fact that there is often inadequate consultation with Indigenous communities;
- that many programs are poorly designed; and
- that few are properly evaluated.
In stark contrast, our relatively small Shalom Gamarada (SG) Indigenous Scholarship Program, supported by AIEF, is achieving hugely positive outcomes. It provides approximately 20 residential scholarships at Shalom College to Indigenous students studying at the University of NSW. The annual cost is $24,000 per student – which amounts to a total running cost of about $500,000 a year.
The focus of the scholarship is to increase the number of Indigenous graduates and professionals. Many Indigenous students find it difficult to succeed at university because:
- they are more likely to come from educationally and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds;
- they often live far from university campuses and spend many hours a day commuting;
- they generally have to work part-time to support themselves; and
- they are more likely to have family members and friends who have not had the opportunity to participate in higher education.
Our program helps to alleviate these problems by providing a ‘home away from home’ at Shalom College on the UNSW campus, thus eliminating financial hardship and time wasted commuting and by creating an environment conducive to learning through tutoring, counselling and having a critical mass of other Indigenous students to support and mentor them.
Two disturbing but hardly surprising statistics:
- Aboriginal students have an overall degree completion rate of less than 50%. In contrast, their non-Indigenous peers complete their studies at a rate of 72%.
- In 2006, less 5% of Aboriginal young adults attended university, which is only one-fifth of the rate for non-Aboriginal students.
Some summary information about the Shalom Gamarada Scholarship Program:
- It began with one student in January 2005. A total of 78 students have been supported since. 28 students have graduated, including 16 Aboriginal doctors – with another 2 Indigenous doctors due to graduate in December 2016. Another scholarship holder for 5 years graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering in November 2016.
- Our Indigenous scholarship holders have had a pass rate of well over 90% for the past 5 years, which exceeds the rate among non-Indigenous students at UNSW. In 2015, every Indigenous student in college passed the year – many with distinctions and credits.
- This success is all the more remarkable given the fact that most of these students are studying long-haul degrees like Medicine and Law in a very competitive academic environment.
- The program received the Pauline McLeod Reconciliation Award in May 2015, issued by the Eastern Region Local Government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum which includes the councils of the City of Sydney, Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick, Leichhardt and Botany.
The scholarship program’s Patron, Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO, Former Governor of NSW said: “This is one of the most visionary and inspirational initiatives in support of young Australians in which I have had the privilege to be involved. We can declare with confidence – and gratitude – that the program is not only an investment in each of the young Australian beneficiaries, but a most valuable investment in our nation Australia.”
David Gonski AC, amongst many other positions is the Chancellor of UNSW and a personal provider of a Shalom Gamarada scholarshipscommented: “Only education can deliver the outcomes needed for an equitable society. Here we have a strategy which is making a real impact. Shalom Gamarada is showing what Indigenous students and graduates can achieve when they are given the chance.”
We are proud to partner with AIEF, a partnership which has enabled us to virtually double the number of scholarships we have raised. Together, we are making a real difference to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians