New support for Indigenous science students

Image of representatives for the University of Melbourne and the Agilent Technologies Foundation.
The Indigenous Science Students Pathway is the first of its kind for an Australian university.

New funding to support Indigenous students on their journey from high school to the workplace will be announced by the University of Melbourne and Agilent Technologies Foundation today.

The Indigenous Science Students Pathway is the first of its kind for an Australian university and arises from a $600 000 gift from Agilent Technologies Foundation, a worldwide leader in life sciences, diagnostics and applied chemical markets, to the University of Melbourne.

University of Melbourne Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) Shaun Ewen said Agilent Technologies would help support the University’s goal to have its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student population achieve population parity.

“The program’s pipe-line path is important because it provides Indigenous students with a continuous, close collaboration with industry to inspire them as teenagers, right through to graduation and the work force,” Professor Ewen said.

“The gift will allow us to boost the University’s existing initiatives, to create the next generation of industry-ready Indigenous STEM graduates. Bringing all perspectives (including Indigenous) to the scientific endeavour were critical for an institution like University of Melbourne to live up to its aspirations of excellence.”

As part of the program, the University of Melbourne will extend its courses for Indigenous students, including the Residential Indigenous Student Experience (RISE), which uses a campus residential experience to inspire Indigenous Year 9 and 10 students to select and maintain science, technology, engineering and maths subjects in high school.

Indigenous students will also benefit from Agilent Technologies Foundation’s support for the existing Bachelor of Science (Extended) program – a four-year degree available solely to Indigenous students, providing them with an extra year of study that can bridge the science knowledge gaps that may have developed in secondary education.

The third part of Agilent Technologies Foundation’s support will provide scholarships that support Indigenous students at both undergraduate and PhD levels and industry mentoring for students who prefer to enter the workplace sooner.

Agilent Technologies Vice President and General Manager of the Spectroscopy Solutions Division Philip Binns said his company felt honoured to partner with the University of Melbourne to support Indigenous students who possessed a passion for STEM disciplines.

“We are delighted to help brilliant young minds unlock their potential and receive the opportunities necessary to form a career in the STEM disciplines, beginning in the teenage years and culminating in full-time employment,” Mr Binns said.

“As a global scientific leader with a significant Australian based research and development capability, we look forward to providing both funding and the opportunity for career mentoring and experience to STEM graduates provided by our experienced Agilent Australian employees.”

Mr Binns said he believed Agilent Technologies Foundation’s investment would encourage both industry attention and investment for Indigenous STEM students, and said it was an important opportunity for Agilent to deliver on its commitment of diversity and inclusion.

University of Melbourne Faculty of Science Dean Karen Day said Agilent Technologies Foundation’s support would help students commit to a future career they may not otherwise have considered possible.

“Australia needs to increase its number and quality of graduates in the STEM disciplines if it is to meet the challenges posed by the future,” Professor Day said.

“What Agilent Technologies Foundation’s support allows us to do is to support and nurture our nation’s Indigenous minds, ensuring they have the opportunities to engage with, and benefit from, the unique STEM education offered at the University of Melbourne.”

Philanthropic support to the University contributes to Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne, which aims to raise $1 billion and engage 100 000 alumni by 2021.