Program helps 25 rural Indigenous university students

TWENTY-FIVE new Indigenous students from across 10 rural areas have enrolled in a tertiary course in Dubbo without relocating.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) has welcomed more students into its Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary) course in Dubbo this year than ever before.

The program, funded from the federal government's Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program, has attracted students from places like Peak Hill, Moree, Coonamble and Wilcannia to study in Dubbo.

The students enrolled in the degree will attend lectures and tutorials four weeks in a year in what is described as a very intensive course by lecturer Maria Bennet.

"The idea is to offer students a blended model of study that includes four residential schools in Dubbo each year, with supported online distance education options for the rest of the year," Ms Bennet said.

"The course is critical for them as they attend face-to-face classes in a lecture and classroom format."

She said the students were essentially doing two to three weeks worth of study in just one week.

The classes include working with Aboriginal Elders, gaining support from library staff as well as working on assignments with other educational providers and visiting local schools.

"Some of the students have had some exposure to university before - they might've started the course but were unable to complete it.

"The weeks will be very intensive but we're happy we've had such a strong response this year... We're delighted with the feedback so far and with the quality of the students who have joined CSU under the Teacher Education in the Community program," Ms Bennet said.

She said staff additionally travelled to the communities to support students and were always easily contactable.

"The university's Indigenous Student Services team assists the students with the cost of travel and accommodation for the residential components of the course in Dubbo. We also try to recruit students in groups from each community so they have some local support," she said.

She said the course was a useful degree as it qualified graduates for employment across both the early childhood and primary sectors.

CSU's Study Link program provides support for students who have been away from study for a while, who might need to brush up on skills such as mathematics, or those making a transition from TAFE to university studies.

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