Donning graduation gowns, 150 Indigenous high school students from around the state have graduated from Nura Gili’s Winter School Program.

Ending the week-long residential program that introduces Indigenous students to university life, the ceremony saw students from the city, remote and rural areas receive graduation certificates in the presence of their family members.

The Winter School is one of the largest Indigenous university engagement programs in Australia, and this year attracted more than 250 student applications for 150 places.

Nura Gili Student Services Manager Michael Peachey addressed the students and acknowledged the support of global financial firm UBS, which is providing $1.25 million over five years for the program.

“It’s been a unique experience for more than 700 students since the program started in 2002, thanks to the support from UBS,” he said.

“Each year, we see students who are becoming more focused and determined to go to university. The graduation ceremony is a culmination of all of their hard work.”

The students this week studied their chosen discipline from Built Environment, Business, Education, Engineering, Indigenous Studies, Law, Medicine, Performing Arts, Science, Social Work and Visual Art and attended lectures and activities with Faculty members.

Aaron Collins, a Dunghutti man from Kempsey on the NSW mid-north coast, now in the final year of his Social Work/Arts degree, said the Winter School had given him his first taste of independence.

“It urged me to not take any of the opportunities for granted. University is a long road, but at the same time, if you blink, you will miss it. I’m actually considering doing another degree now,” he said.

Director of Nura Gili, Professor Martin Nakata, said the success of Nura Gili’s programs is “demonstrated by the high number of participants who go on to enrol in higher education, many of them at UNSW”.

There are currently 328 Indigenous students enrolled at UNSW, an increase of 26% on last year. Many of these students have participated in past Winter School programs and have been assisted by Nura Gili’s preparation programs and education pathways.

Media contact: Cassie Chorn, UNSW Media Office, 9385 8107   

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