“I tell my brothers that it can be done”: Indigenous Males Navigating Elite Australian Higher Education

Garth Stahl, James A. Smith, Andrew Harvey, Braden Hill, Himanshu Gupta, Sam Moore, Jianing Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As Australian higher education grapples with its colonial history, there has been significant attention to recruiting Indigenous students. However, while we have seen increases in Indigenous participation, males lag significantly behind. Very few Indigenous males enter university and even fewer enter the upper echelons of the stratified higher education sector. In this paper, we investigate the experiences of four Indigenous young men who attended an elite Australian higher education institution. Central to our analysis is how their identities are realised in relation to their sense of Indigeneity and Western ways of knowing, being and doing. In capturing the complex identity work of young Indigenous men, we report on three themes present in the data: feelings of alienation and isolation; identification with their Indigenous identity; and how they view higher education in shaping their futures. How these young men navigate selective institutions speaks to debates regarding non-traditional and historically excluded student populations in elite spaces as well as the decolonisation of higher education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-438
Number of pages21
JournalResearch in Post-Compulsory Education
Issue number3
Early online date4 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • higher education
  • Indigenous
  • Indigenous masculinity
  • widening participation


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