A group of students is celebrating after graduating from the Indigenous Preparatory Program run by Nura Gili.
The program is open to Indigenous students, many of whom have just finished high school, looking to explore their options and potentially apply for entry into undergraduate degrees offered at UNSW.
This year the program ran in Law, Medicine, Business and Social Work, with students attending on a full-time basis for more than three weeks and living together on campus in college halls.
Each stream has been developed in partnership with Nura Gili and UNSW faculties and schools to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with a stepping stone to their dream career - and to introduce them to university life within an environment that provides culturally appropriate support.
Pre-Business Program student Amber Cumpston, a proud Barkindji woman who acknowledged the Bedegal people of the Eora Nation and paid respects to the Elders past and present, said: “I think it’s such a valuable opportunity and one that Indigenous students shouldn’t pass up if they get the chance.
“To be able to experience what it’s like at university before you start full-time studies is phenomenal. Nura Gili really helped me make the decision to come here for this program and that help and assistance has just been enhanced every step of the way in the past three weeks.
“The Business School is very varied and there is a lot of different disciplines. We did eight subjects in this three week program so it has been really intensive. But that also gives you the opportunity to have a clearer picture of what each area entails.
“The diversity is the best thing about the program. Studying all the different subjects is very enlightening and to be able to understand what it all entails is invaluable.”
Throughout the programs across all disciplines, students are assessed on their commitment, attitude and aptitude towards their studies – as well as their ability to participate academically.
Successful completion of the program can subsequently lead to an offer of entry into an undergraduate degree at UNSW or a pathways (enabling) program.
Noah Steinman, proudly from the Arrernte tribe, took part in the Pre-Law Program just a couple of weeks after completing his HSC exams.
He said: “A lot of my mates went off on holiday after the HSCs, so I made some sacrifices to be here for this program – but it’s all been worth it.
“What I loved about the program is it enables you to learn so much in just three weeks. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure I wanted to do Law as a degree, but through this program and seeing what Nura Gili provides, I’ve become very determined that I want to come to UNSW Law.
“This program helps to prepare you for everything to do with university. And it can help mentally prepare you to be away from home for a decent amount of time.”
Nura Gili are keen to expand the Indigenous Preparatory Programs in 2019 and are in the process of getting approval for additional programs to run in Science and Engineering next year.
Associate Professor Reuben Bolt, Director of Nura Gili, believes the program is a great opportunity for Indigenous students to experience the culture at UNSW.
“This program allows students to get a taste of university. It is three-and-a-half weeks, studying 9am to 5pm, so it is intensive. It is not a holiday,” he explained.
“Students attending this program are here while ‘Schoolies Week’ is going on, so that shows they are dedicated to be here.
“They are immersed in discipline-specific knowledge for three-and-a-half weeks. At the end of the program we are able to get a good idea of where the student is at academically within the discipline and they may be given an offer into a degree program based on their performance.
“This particular program helps students build an understanding of UNSW and the campus and the culture at the university. They experience student life, they live in the colleges and get to know our staff, and our programs and our facilities.
“So they become part of the family and if they have a couple of options for where they want to do their degree, we hope they will have a strong affinity with the community here and choose UNSW.”