Talent, commitment, passion and vision need opportunity to reveal their triumph.
A university education or career is an opportunity that can shape a lifetime. It is also an opportunity for Australia to shape our society, to shape our identity and to strengthen our nation. The University of Sydney, Australia’s first University, takes seriously our position as an iconic institution that has provided Australians more than 150 years of opportunity. We were the first to extend opportunity on the basis of merit and not class, the first to admit women to all areas of the University on an equal basis to men, and the first to ensure Aboriginal people benefited.
Higher education delivers benefit not only to the individual but also to society as a whole. We know that better educated, engaged minds contribute proportionately more to the social, cultural, identity and human capital of our communities and society.
Joining, learning from and contributing to the intellectual life of one of Australia’s best university communities should be a realistic goal for Australians who seek a place in higher education. However, there is no one pathway to Sydney nor are these pathways always straightforward. For many Australians their journey confronts a number of hurdles. Some hurdles are structural, cultural, and geographic, while some are social and economic. Some exist because of the choices of individuals, the decisions of society, and some because of decisions taken by the University. The journey for most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is one complicated by a greater number of higher hurdles than the journey for many other Australians.
The University of Sydney will stay true to our history of giving talent, commitment, passion, and vision an opportunity. This strategy intensifies our efforts to ensure that unwarranted hurdles standing between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the opportunity of a quality higher education are eliminated.
Decisions, preferences, priorities, socialisation and norms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people, the University, and society more generally are each influenced by soft and hard forms of discrimination, ignorance, personal experience and/or history, good and bad. Sorting through these influences will require our careful analysis and action.
The University’s commitment to opportunity is not confined to the journey to Sydney, it embraces the life inside the University and it contemplates what tools and attributes graduates and staff will need to recognise, seize and optimise opportunities to achieve and contribute beyond the sandstone of Sydney.
Opportunity is more often than not a series of windows; some clear almost invisible, others opaque and obvious. Grasping opportunity requires a sharp eye and hard work. This is the challenge, and a reward offered by this strategy.
This section of the strategy proposes an integrated approach to optimising opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians, by:
- understanding, adapting and expanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples’ access to opportunities at the University of Sydney as a student, staff member or supporter
- consolidating and growing the opportunity for non-Aboriginal students and staff to be part of the achievement of individual and collective success, constructively, respectfully and competently
- repositioning the University of Sydney as a preferred higher education destination and workplace for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by enriching the social, cultural and educational environment and reputation of the University nationally and internationally.