The Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success acknowledges Indigenous peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses are situated. With a history spanning 60,000 years as the original educators, Indigenous peoples hold a unique place in Australia. We recognise the importance of their knowledge and culture, and reflect the principles of participation, equity, and cultural respect in our work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and consider it an honour to learn from our Indigenous colleagues, partners, and friends.

You are reading: Indigenous VET to Higher Education pathways and transitions: A literature review

Jack Frawley, James A. Smith, Andrew Gunstone, Ekaterina Pechenkina, Wendy Ludwig, and Allison Stewart

Published in International Studies in Widening Participation 4 (1) by the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre and the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education, The University of Newcastle, Australia


The rates of Australian Indigenous participation in higher education (HE) are significantly lower than those of non-Indigenous students, with Indigenous students less likely than their non-Indigenous peers to complete Year 12. As a result, they are less likely to obtain an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) needed for university admission. Statistically, far more Indigenous students enrol in Vocational Education and Training (VET) than in HE. With VET to HE transition pathways remaining convoluted, it is critical to streamline those in order to increase Indigenous HE participation. This is of particular importance for rural and remote Indigenous students who have completed a VET qualification and are considering HE study. Unfortunately, only 4.9% of Indigenous students currently make this transition from VET to HE. While, as the scoping review undertaken will show, Indigenous enabling programs have received significant attention in the recent past, the potential of the VET to HE pathway to increase Indigenous HE participation remains largely unexplored. This review updates the current evidence base on trends associated with, and strategies used to support, Indigenous students transitioning from VET to HE in Australia, and identifies research gaps in relation to pathways and transitions, especially within the Indigenous experience. Some international comparisons are also undertaken.

Frawley, Jack, James A. Smith, Andrew Gunstone, Ekaterina Pechenkina, Wendy Ludwig, and Allison Stewart “Indigenous VET to Higher Education pathways and transitions: A literature review” International Studies in Widening Participation 4 (1): 34-54

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