Breaking down barriers: introducing Indigenous high school students to the Business School

1 Jun 2017
InspireU Business group with the two volunteer lectures

UQ Business School recently hosted its InspireU Business program for the second year, inviting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students from all around Australia to attend. The program is a week-long camp that aims to inspire indigenous students to enter the world of business and ease their reservations about university life.

Throughout the week, UQ Business School lecturers volunteer their time to coach the students through their business ideas and give them a detailed look into the life of a professional in their desired field.

Dr Lance Newey and Dr Tracy Artiach Co-Program Coordinators, emphasised just how much of an impact these lecturers make on the students.

“We want them to see that lecturers are highly relatable people. Lecturers care about them and their learning,” Dr Newey said.

"The students walk away from the week encouraged that University should no longer be viewed as this unattainable goal," Dr Artiach said.

"It is a privilege to be part of the process in helping them realise the opportunities that stand before them," she said.

Shane Drahm, Director of ATSISU (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit), hosts the camp to combine professional business experience with a specific welcoming to indigenous students.

“The program also aims to break down some of the barriers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students face with respect to attending university, particularly creating a sense of belonging to the campus,” Mr Drahm said.

After a week of learning how to efficiently turn their business ideas into business models, students can then present their projects to an audience of academics and ATSISU staff. The students also attend a gala dinner where they can create even deeper connections with staff members.

Shaylan Haines is one of the high school students who has attended the event two years in a row, and has been very grateful for the experience.

“When I finish this year, I am hoping to study something in business management and finance. The workshops that were given to us to participate in were awesome, and I loved how the lecturers delivered their workshops to us,” Mr Haines said.

Both Co-Program Coordinators feel that the event has been successful each year it has been held with the hope to grow the program in order to engage more indigenous students into university.