26 February 2014

A new program has been launched at The University of Queensland to tackle the under-representation of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at university and in the top tiers of academic achievement.

Minister for Education, Training and Employment John-Paul Langbroek joined UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj to officially launch Solid Pathways – a program that supports Queensland’s high-achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through school and into a career.

Developed in partnership between Education Queensland and UQ philosophers, the program targets top-performing Indigenous students, as well as students who are in foster care or who live independently, building core academic skills to ensure that they are supported throughout their schooling and the transition to university.

Students participate in weekly on-line classes and regular visits to UQ campuses and field stations for activities representing every program of study and career pathway available through the University.

UQ President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj said it was important for universities to begin engaging with primary school students early in their education to boost their confidence and help them maintain their results through to tertiary study.

“By starting early with high-achieving students, the Solid Pathways program helps students and their families to feel that a university like UQ is a place from which they can build their futures,” Professor Høj said.

UQ Pro-Vice Chancellor (Indigenous Education) Professor Cindy Shannon said the program built confidence in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their families and offered a positive experience of university life.

“Weekly classes target the development of critical reasoning, analysis and argument construction to help bright students who may be held back by low self-confidence,” Professor Shannon said.

“Importantly, we are exposing participants to a new community of high-performing Indigenous peers and creating an environment that supports and celebrates their success.”  

The Indigenous students from 160 schools began the pilot program in Term 4 last year and will be joined by up to 68 out-of-home care students.

Together they will make up around 350 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who scored in the top two NAPLAN bands in reading and numeracy.

The students can attend event days at UQ to explore university options and plan their own pathways to higher education and employment.

Academic staff from UQ’s School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics have been pivotal in the creation and ongoing development of the program.

Click here to watch a video of the program launch.

Media contact: UQ Communications, communications@uq.edu.au or 07 3346 0561.