Australia’s first ‘bush university’ launched in Arnhem Land

Australia’s first ‘bush university’ launched in Arnhem Land

Australia’s first ‘bush university’ launched in Arnhem Land

Macquarie University and South-East Arnhem Land communities have partnered to establish Australia's first ‘bush university’ at the remote outstation of Wuyagiba, which lies on the western coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Macquarie University and South-East Arnhem Land communities have partnered to establish Australia’s first ‘bush university’ at the remote outstation of Wuyagiba, which lies on the western coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The Wuyagiba Regional Study Hub, which was launched in September, provides opportunities for remote Indigenous students to access university education and creates a means for Elders to sustain high-level Aboriginal knowledge in the region.

A six-week trial of the Study Hub has been completed, with the first intake of 25 students from Ngukurr beginning a cross-cultural bridging course to prepare them for tertiary education.

Fourteen students graduated in a ceremony in Ngukurr on 15 October. In the last week of the trial, the 14 successful students travelled to Macquarie University to sit alternative entrance interviews with Walanga Muru and other Macquarie University staff.

The Wuyagiba course combined traditional knowledge and transferrable skills including essay writing, computer skills, filmmaking and translation from local Kriol to English.

A new open-air classroom facility was constructed by locals and Environmental Sciences’ Ben Kitchener and Dr Emilie Ens to host the Tertiary Preparation Course classes, which were run by local Elders, Macquarie University lecturers and current Macquarie University undergraduate students from Ngukurr, Melissa Wurramarrba and Ernest Daniels.

"This locally developed course is designed to bridge the gap in tertiary education in South East Arnhem Land,” says Emilie, who is the project co-convenor."

“Through my 10 years of work in this community I have worked closely with local community members to identify how we can address the gaps and hurdles to tertiary education for this mob."

“The trial has also allowed us to identify what works and doesn't work in terms of course material and the facility so in following years we can continue to improve the course and outcomes.”

Next year’s Wuyagiba Study Hub students are already lining up and other Aboriginal communities have shown interest in starting their own Tertiary Study Hub following this locally-grounded model.

Find out more.

Watch the Bush University in action.

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