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Report prepared by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

The following ACER staff contributed to the preparation of this paper: Michele Lonsdale, Greta Rollo, Jenny Wilkinson, Ali Radloff, Stephanie Armstrong, Gina Milgate and Jenny Trevitt.

This report is made available under CC by 3.0 AU


This review outlines some of the themes that have emerged in the growing global discourse of Indigenous education in the higher education sector. The past decade and a half have seen increased numbers of Indigenous students and academic staff in universities, a proliferation of publications exploring Indigenous issues in the academy, and heightened interest in the nature and meaning of Indigenous knowledge and studies.

This review examined information provided by 22 Australian universities to gain a picture of the research fields and topics that are attracting most interest from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates and academics. It also reviewed some of the international and national literature to identify themes and issues generating debate among Indigenous scholars.

Research being undertaken by graduate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and academics shows a rich and diverse range of interests and issues being explored. Data collected from Australian higher education institutions for this review indicate that the most common fields of interest for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and academics are health, the arts, education, and Indigenous studies. Limited data obtained from Australian universities about the current topics being studied by Indigenous academic staff suggests health and education are among the most popular areas. It appears that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduate students and academic staff are less likely to be pursuing research in law, business-related studies, architecture and science than in other areas.