UTS plan to build Australia's first Indigenous Residential College

14 December 2018

Simon Albrecht

Photo: Concept art of the Indigenous Residential College.

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has announced a ground-breaking plan to build Australia's first Indigenous Residential College.

Once completed the college is expected to be one of the most significant of its type in the world.

"The evidence is clear that higher education is one of the greatest ways to close the gap on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage."

The estimated $100 million world-class facility will offer a comprehensive range of services above and beyond accommodation and have the celebration of Indigenous identity and culture at its core. The majority of students will be Indigenous but there will also be places for non-Indigenous students.

UTS staff, students, Indigenous leaders and community members gathered today for the launch of the plan, as the university called on partners to join in to help realise the vision.

UTS was joined in its commitment to funding the Indigenous College by both the NSW Government and the Federal Labor Opposition.

 

The NSW Premier the Hon Gladys Berejiklian, the NSW Treasurer the Hon. Dominic Perrottet, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Education the Hon. Tanya Plibersek joined with the community in support of the project.

UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs praised the commitment of leaders from across the nation’s parliaments to this transformational project, which will have inter-generational benefits for communities right across Australia.

“The evidence is clear that higher education is one of the greatest ways to close the gap on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. We need bold ideas to ensure we maximise the transformative benefits of further education,” Professor Brungs said.

“The UTS Indigenous Residential College is a transformative, strengths-based initiative that will both inspire more Indigenous people to enter higher education and, importantly, celebrate the richness of Indigenous heritage and culture and help forge a more inclusive society,” Professor Brungs said.

2 students looking at a laptop

Key features of the college will include:

  • Accommodation for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, with 250 beds envisaged
  • Architect-designed landmark building and contemporary interior design, informed by Indigenous designers with Indigenous culture and identity at its core
  • Publicly accessibly cultural, arts and community spaces: celebrating Indigenous traditions and heritage
  • Program of events and opportunities in collaboration with a range of education, cultural, community, industry and government partners
  • Scholarships and cost-covered accommodation for Indigenous students
  • Ongoing mentoring and leadership development.

The college will also build connections with schools and employers, creating a pipeline of leaders of the future.

Professor Brungs said the vision for the college had been developed by UTS’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Leadership and Engagement, Professor Michael McDaniel in close consultation with UTS Indigenous leaders, staff and students, as well as local and national Indigenous leaders.

Professor McDaniel said: “The majority of Indigenous people don’t have a history of participating in university education. By creating a place with Indigenous culture at its heart – not on the periphery – the college will help Indigenous people ‘see’ themselves at university. For the first time Indigenous people will be the hosts not the guests in a place based around their traditions and identity.

3 students looking at the camera

“The college will help remove barriers to education for Indigenous people by raising aspiration, maximising opportunities for entry to higher education and supporting the pursuit of quality employment, careers and contribution to society.”

Current UTS Honours student Marlee Silva welcomed the initiative and her university’s role in pioneering it.

“UTS’s demonstrated leadership and its ongoing public support of many Indigenous issues and projects, such as this college, shows that UTS is undoubtedly one of, if not the, most centrally committed universities in Australia to nurturing Indigenous culture and traditions, in order to promote the growth and prosperity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.”

To realise the vision UTS is pursuing a multifaceted funding model with costs shared between the university, government, business and philanthropic partners. Once the full funding is secured, the transformational project will bring diverse partners together for a unique educational initiative that has at its heart the goal of a reconciled nation.

The aim is to have the college open to students by 2023. The final site of the college will be determined later but will be near the UTS Ultimo campus.