Understanding the identity work and aspirations of Indigenous males navigating elite Australian higher education

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

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In Australia, there has been increased attention to attracting Indigenous peoples into higher education but, despite a recent growth in enrolment numbers, they remain severely underrepresented. This underrepresentation is particularly notable among Indigenous males, who are the least likely to attend. In this paper, we investigate the experiences of four Indigenous young men who attended an elite higher education institution. Aligned with other research on the experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic males in higher education, the article captures how their experience in privileged institutions compels them to reflect on their own positionality and the cultural interface between Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledges. All data were thematically analysed and this paper reports on two key themes: influencers to pursue higher education and motivational factors at university. In considering the journey of these young men into elite higher education spaces, we are interested in the discursive constitution of their Indigenous identities and how their aspirations are realised in reference to a strong sense of cultural pride and social justice.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalEducational Review
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jul 2023


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Higher education
  • Indigenous
  • Indigenous masculinity
  • Widening participation


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