STEM – Addressing Indigenous underrepresentation in the sciences

2013 RISE camp students at the Synchrotron

Creating opportunities for careers in the maths and sciences

In 2015 the University is introducing a new pathway for Indigenous Australians wishing to embark on careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This pathway, the Bachelor of Science (Extended), or BSc(Ext), will also prepare students for further studies in medicine and the health sciences, architecture and design, business and economics, and studies of the environment. Twelve students have enrolled and are studying in the first year program during 2015. 

Bachelor of Science (Extended)

Under the BSc(Ext), Indigenous students complete the Bachelor of Science program over fours years instead of the usual three. BSc(Ext) gives students, who may not have achieved the ATAR for regular undergraduate entry at the University of Melbourne, the opportunity to study with other Indigenous students and receive additional support and extension activities.The goal of the program is to give students the opportunity to excel at their studies and embark on careers requiring a foundation in mathematics and science.

The program builds on the success of the Bachelor of Arts (Extended) Program first established at the University in 2009.

Residential Indigenous Science Experience (RISE)

The University of Melbourne offers a number of pipeline activities to encourage and support young Indigenous Australians to study sciences at university.

The Residential Indigenous Science Experience (RISE), is offered to Indigenous secondary students from years 9 and 10. It is run over 4 days and has attracted students from across Victoria. Participation has grown from 18 in November 2012 to over 50 in November 2014, with a number students expressing a commitment to continuing their studies in science and maths through to year 12 with the intention of enrolling in the Bachelor of Science Extended in 2015 or 2016.

RISE is delivered as a partnership initiative between the Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne, the Gene Technology Access Centre and IBM.

Other STEM preparation activities

  • Indigenous Australian Academic Enrichment Program – two year research program involving students from years 9 and 10, their teachers and Indigenous community members from six schools across Victoria exploring ways of supporting students to build their aspiration and capability for university studies with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics
  • Indigenous Engineering Summer School – Year 11/12 engineering camp program currently offered New South Wales and Western Australian is being planned to start at the University of Melbourne in July 2015
  • Science Engineering and Maths Program (SEAMs) – collaborative program offered to low-SES and Indigenous students by the University of Melbourne and Monash University offering two annual science camps – one for students from years 7 and 8 (to be held in July) and a year 11 and 12 cohort
  • Indigenous School Partnership Program – working with 25 schools across Victoria to establish enduring relationships to provide Indigenous students with enrichment that will help them engage and succeed in the study of maths and science. A regional forum for career's teachers, and a principal's forum, will explore collaborative approaches to creating pathways for Indigenous students to access careers in science.
  • National Engineering Summit – the School of Engineering will host a summit in mid 2015 that will bring together the engineering industry, professional bodies, education providers and policy leaders to exchange ideas and develop strategies to create and support pathways into the engineering profession for Indigenous Australians.