The AIEF Scholarship Program provides an efficient and effective model. We operate by partnering with leading schools that have their own relationships with Indigenous families and communities and a demonstrated commitment to Indigenous education and all appropriate student support and pastoral care, which is supplemented by the AIEF Pathways Program.
Our partner schools are responsible for the selection and enrolment of their own Indigenous students and we provide them with the financial resources to build and sustain a critical mass of Indigenous boarders within their school on a long-term basis. This model constitutes what we consider to be best practice and also keeps our business highly efficient and effective so that the majority of funds are channelled to the education expenses of Indigenous students and not spent on other costs.
AIEF does not actively seek out or encourage Indigenous students to go to boarding school. We believe that a student will have the greatest chance of succeeding at school if the decision to enrol is one made by the family of the student, in conjunction with the school. Our role is to facilitate choice, so that families are able to make decisions about the education of their child without financial barriers that prevent them enrolling at one of AIEF's partner schools.
The independence of each of our partner schools in selecting and enrolling their own students is also a core feature of the AIEF Scholarship Program. Scholarship eligibility is primarily based on enthusiasm and commitment from the student and family and the likelihood of the student successfully completing their schooling through to Year 12.
A localised, school-led model
The AIEF Scholarship Program is a ‘school-led’ model – it does not impose a one-size-fits-all or prescriptive approach but supports individual schools to implement their own responses to Indigenous education in their own way.
This means we stand behind our partner schools and provide funding for Indigenous scholarships, while our partner schools are responsible for their core competencies of student and family relationships, education and pastoral care.
We provide financial support and other resources to leading schools to enable them to do what they do best, and to do it in their own localised way.
This means our partner schools, rather than AIEF, are responsible for:
developing and maintaining their own close relationships with Indigenous communities that generate greater mutual familiarity over time;
establishing close and direct lines of communication with the families and communities of their Indigenous students, to gain understanding of each student's background, community and family, including strengths and vulnerabilities;
identifying, assessing and enrolling Indigenous students; and
delivering all educational and pastoral care needs of the students.
We adopt this school-led model because the evidence shows that the prospects for successful student outcomes are greater if:
Schools have a direct ‘ownership’ stake in student selection, enrolment, relationships, education and pastoral care, which carries end-to-end responsibility for results and drives continual improvement to produce lasting success.
Schools have ‘skin in the game’ and are able to frame their Indigenous education initiatives in a way that suits their own unique environment.
Teachers and other school staff are able to implement programs their own way rather than conforming to prescriptive requirements of external bodies.
Choice and opportunity
An important feature of the AIEF approach is that we advocate choice and opportunity for Indigenous children and their families.
We want to help give Indigenous children and their families more choice by removing the financial barriers that exclude them from high quality schools, so we partner with leading schools to put up the welcome sign for Indigenous children.
We do not pressure schools into Indigenous education. We work with those that are most enthusiastically committed to doing it themselves and leading the way for the nation.
We do not tell schools who they should enrol or how they should run their schools.
We do not advocate that boarding schools are for everyone, or are the only answer.
We believe that more effort and resources needs to be invested in improving educational offerings in all schools all around the country.
We do not accept that Indigenous children and their families should be denied educational choice and excluded from high-quality schools simply because of the economic circumstances they inherit at birth.
AIEF’s task is to deliver the funding that will break down the financial barriers that exclude Indigenous children from a greater level of participation in high quality schools.
While each school will customise their own program to suit their own circumstances, there are several core principles that are applied by our partner schools to select Indigenous students who will be eligible for assistance under the AIEF Scholarship Program. These selection principles are designed to support Indigenous students who:
are enthusiastic about embracing the educational opportunity offered by the school;
have supportive families or carers encouraging the student to attend the school;
are likely to succeed in attainment of their Year 12 completion at the school; and
are in need of financial assistance to access a place at one of our partner schools.
These core principles represent the major policy settings of the AIEF Scholarship Program, but AIEF Partner Schools individually implement their own customised delivery and may have their own additional selection and enrolment criteria to suit their own school environment. This localised customisation is fundamental to success.
AIEF Partner Schools
In the AIEF Scholarship Program, we partner with leading boarding schools and residential university colleges in Australia that have a demonstrated commitment to Indigenous education and relationships with Indigenous communities and families.
AIEF assists its partner schools to establish and maintain a sustainable critical mass of Indigenous boarders by underwriting an agreed number of boarding places for Indigenous scholarships at each school on an ongoing basis.
As our funding base grows, we partner with more schools and offer more scholarships.
The Indigenous students at these schools come from more than 100 different home communities in metropolitan, regional and remote parts of the country, and the Year 12 graduates come out of school well-educated and work-ready.
AIEF has no religious affiliation and religion is not part of our partner school or student selection criteria.
Please note that individual schools have different enrolment criteria and the availability of scholarships may be limited. Eligibility restrictions for scholarships can include certain home communities and/or regions, specific skills or other criteria.
If you would like to find out more about the application process, please click here.