University Governance

Indigenous Cultural Competency in University Governance:
Guiding Principles

National Stocktake

The most commonly cited definition of institutional cultural competence that has emerged from the human services literature generated in the United States is that provided by Cross, Bazron, Dennis, and Isaacs (1989). Cross et al (1989):

Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviours, attitudes and policies that come together in a system, agency or among professionals and enable that system, agency or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations (Cross et al., 1989, cited in American Association of Medical Colleges, 2005, p. 1).

Eisenbruch (2004) and Miralles and Migliorino (2005) argue that embedding cultural competence at the institutional level is reliant upon the enabling of the four key inter-related dimensions of cultural competence:

  • Systemic cultural competence — requires effective policies and procedures, monitoring mechanisms and sufficient resources to foster culturally competent behaviour and practice at all levels.
      
  • Organisational cultural competence  — requires skills and resources to meet client diversity, an organisational culture which values, supports and evaluates cultural competency as integral to core business.
      
  • Professional cultural competence — depends on education and professional development and requires cultural competence standards to guide the working lives of individuals.
      
  • Individual cultural competence — requires the maximization of knowledge, attitudes and behaviours within an organization that supports individuals to work with diverse colleagues and customers (cited in Bean, R 2007 p. 3).

Therefore, in keeping with the definitions provided by Cross et al (1989), Eisenbruch (2004) and Miralles and Migliorino (2005), Indigenous Australian cultural competence in relation to University Governance requires:

An organisational culture which is committed to social justice, human rights and the process of reconciliation through valuing and supporting Indigenous cultures, knowledges and peoples as integral to the core business of the institution. It requires effective and inclusive policies and procedures, monitoring mechanisms and allocation of sufficient resources to foster culturally competent behaviour and practice at all levels of the institution. Embedding Indigenous cultural competence requires commitment to a whole of institution approach, including increasing the University’s engagement with Indigenous communities, Indigenisation of the curriculum, pro-active provision of services and support to Indigenous students, capacity building of Indigenous staff, professional development of non-Indigenous staff and the inclusion of Indigenous cultures and knowledges as a visual and valued aspect of University life, governance and decision-making.



University Governance: Summary of Findings

The Stocktake survey contained four questions related to University Governance which reflect elements of the definitions of institutional cultural competence outlined above. It must be remembered that institutional cultural competence encompasses all aspects of a University’s operations, including teaching and learning, human resources, research activity and external engagement. Accordingly, University Governance, or institutional Indigenous cultural competence all the remaining Stocktake themes.

The four questions contained in the Stocktake survey under the heading of Uiversity Governance were :

  1. Does the institution have Indigenous representation on University governing bodies?
      
  2. Is there an established procedure for seeking Indigenous representation on university committees, boards and other bodies?
      
  3. Is there a framework for regular reporting of Indigenous staff and student outcomes?
      
  4. Are performance indicators for Indigenous outcomes included in the KPI’s of university organisational units and senior staff?

Collation and analysis of the Stocktake responses revealed disparity between institutions in the degree and formalization of Indigenous involvement in university governance (see Appendix 4a).
At the time of writing, only two universities had senior Indigenous appointments at Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous Leadership) or Deputy Vice Chancellor level.

The Stocktake data demonstrates a significant movement toward the inclusion of Indigenous representation on the Boards and Councils of universities across the sector, with ten institutions having Indigenous representation on University Council and three with representation on Academic Senate.
Over half of the universities that responded to the Stocktake had Indigenous representation on one or more other Boards or Advisory Groups of their University, including Vice Chancellors advisory groups, Ethics Committees, Faculty Boards, Equity, Diversity and Access Committees, and Indigenous Employment advisory groups.

However, and importantly, with the exception of Griffith University, Charles Sturt University and the University of New England, little evidence exists of established procedure for ensuring the inclusion of Indigenous representation on governing bodies or other boards and committees. Appointments generally tend to be governed by convention and good will rather than being systemic, policy or process driven and thus accountable and sustainable over time (See Appendix 4b).

The Stocktake analysis revealed that whilst Indigenous performance indicators were used in eighteen institutions, the majority of these applied to the performance of Indigenous staff and not to organizational units or non-Indigenous members of senior management. It is clear that, in general, accountability for Indigenous staff and Indigenous student outcomes is continuing to lie primarily with Indigenous staff in Indigenous Centres/Units rather than it being a whole of institution (and sector) responsibility (See Appendix 4c).

The framework for reporting on Indigenous staff and Indigenous students was on the whole managed through the process with DEEWR. However, a total of four institutions had Reconciliation Action Plans while a number of universities have other internal and external reporting structures in place, including the University of New England, University of Melbourne, Charles Sturt University, RMIT, Universities of Wollongong, Sydney, Central Queensland and Western Australia, Flinders University, and Edith Cowan University who reports externally to the Western Australian Aboriginal Education and Training Council (See Appendix 4d).  

Current Exemplars of Good Practice  

As detailed in the relevant appenditures to this document, the Stocktake and subsequent web-based search of Australian higher education institutions revealed some positive trends, initiatives and activities occurring across the sector which provide exemplars for practice in embedding elements of Indigenous cultural competence in university governance structures and reporting requirements.

Inclusion of Senior Indigenous Leadership in University Governance

Example 1. At the time of writing, two universities had senior Indigenous appointments at Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous Leadership – Charles Darwin University) or Deputy Vice Chancellor level (University of Sydney).

Example 2. Charles Sturt University has employed a collective Indigenous  senior leadership model comprising the Special Advisor of Indigenous Affairs, Chair of Indigenous Education, Director of the Centre for Indigenous Studies and Manager of Indigenous Student Services.

Inclusion of Indigenous peoples in University Governance

Example 1. Charles Sturt University has Indigenous representation on all peak  governing bodies, including Council, Academic Senate, Senior Executive, all Faculty Boards and Human Research Ethics Committee, as well having an Indigenous Education Strategy Coordinating Group and an Indigenous Board of Studies which is the formal quality assurance and approval body for all subjects and courses with Indigenous Australian content. The university has an established procedure for seeking Indigenous representation through the CSU Act and Indigenous Education Strategy which ensures Indigenous representation at all levels of university governance.

Example 2. Melbourne University has two academic Indigenous Chairs are members of Academic Board and an Adviser to the Vice Chancellor on Indigenous matters. There is a new Indigenous Affairs Advisory Committee as a Committee of Council. There is Indigenous representation on Indigenous Teaching and Learning Sub-Committees of Academic Programs Committee, University staff and Student Equity group, Indigenous Scholarship and Awards Committee. Senior Indigenous academic leaders hold various Board positions within the university. The university also has an Institute for Indigenous Development.
See: http://www.unimelb.edu.au/unisec/iaac.html - Indigenous Affairs Advisory Committee
See: http://www.murrupbarak.unimelb.edu.au/content/pages/about-murrup-barak - Murrup Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development

Inclusion of Indigenous Key Performance Indicators for organisational units and senior staff

Example 1. The University of Newcastle has the following Key Performance Indicators linked to senior management performance:

Outcome Measure Target for 2015
An environment free from racism Participation in cultural competency training Implement in all faculties and divisions with at least 75% of staff
Improve access to higher education for Indigenous peoples Proportion of Indigenous students Increase from 2.2% to 2.8%
Improve educational outcomes Retention rate of Indigenous students Increase from 72% to 79%
Attract and retain Indigenous staff Percent Indigenous staff Increase from 2.1% to 3.9%
Linking Indigenous issues to teaching curricula Number of courses with Indigenous content Increase to 350 courses

See: http://www.newcastle.edu.au/Resources/Divisions/Academic/Planning Quality and Reporting/
Planning/2011-2015 Council Approved Strategic Plan.pdf

Example 2. Charles Sturt University has a comprehensive Indigenous Education Strategy containing five major Key Performance Indicators’s that involve a whole institutional commitment to improving outcomes in Indigenous education which are linked to organisational units and senior staff performance. Indigenous staff and student outcomes are reported through the institution’s Indigenous Education Strategy Coordinating Group, Indigenous Employment Strategy Committee, EO/AA and Equity and Diversity Committees and the University’s annual report to DEEWR.

Example 3. At Melbourne University Key Performance Indicators’s are included in Staff Equity and Diversity Framework and University-wide planning, though it is not clear from the data if these are directly linked to senior staff performance. The reporting of Indigenous staff and student outcomes is managed through the newly established Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Partnerships (MIIP), Indigenous Education statement to DEEWR and through the annual stock take to Councils and the Equity committee.

Inclusion of Indigenous Education Strategies and Reconciliation Action Plans

Example 1. Charles Sturt University has a comprehensive Indigenous Education Strategy aligns the University’s Indigenous Education policies and activities with national Indigenous Education policies, recommendations and guidelines to provide the University with a framework and guidelines for the development of a systematic and coordinated whole-of institution approach to the implementation of the University’s Vision and Key Objectives for Indigenous Education.

See: http://www.csu.edu.au/faculty/educat/cfis/docs/csu-indigenous-education-strategy.pdf

Example 2. The University of Ballarat Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) has been identified by the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) as an example of good practice (AUQA, 2011). The RAP provides the university with an  opportunity to expand and to strengthen current activities and to develop new initiatives through a co-ordinated, University-wide approach. The RAP’s actions and targets are monitored and reviewed annually as part of the University’s policy, planning andreporting cycle. The RAP focuses on activities relevant to the University’s key objectives which relate to:

  1. Providing access to effective and high quality learning and research opportunities for Australian and international students.
      
  2. Producing graduates who are sought after within Australia and internationally for their knowledge, skills, competencies and employability.
      
  3. Undertaking internationally recognised research, and engaging in knowledge transfer, that has demonstrable relevance to and impact on, communities, industries and regions served by the University.
      
  4. Deepening our engagement and partnership through industry, community and collaborative opportunities.
      
  5. Creating a work environment where staff is valued and where there are opportunities for renewal, career development and leadership.
      
  6. Committing to continual improvement in the stewardship of resources through ethical, effective and sustainable management and governance.

Example 3. Southern Cross University’s Reconciliation Action Plan provides the university with a framework for enabling the university’s commitment to the process of reconciliation by creating opportunities to improve social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

See: http://www.usc.edu.au/University/AbouttheUniversity/Governance/Policies/RAP20092011.htm

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International Stocktake

The national Stocktake of Indigenous Cultural Competency in Australian Universities survey contained four questions related to University Governance which reflect elements of the definitions of institutional cultural competence outlined in the previous section. These questions were used to frame the web-based search of surveyed international higher education institutions. The questions are:

  1. Does the institution have Indigenous representation on University governing bodies?
      
  2. Is there an established procedure for seeking Indigenous representation on university committees, boards and other bodies?
      
  3. Is there a framework for regular reporting of Indigenous staff and student outcomes?
      
  4. Are performance indicators for Indigenous outcomes included in the KPI’s of university organisational units and senior staff?

Due to a lack of information presented on a number of the surveyed university websites, particularly in the United States, it was not possible to find detail and examples of practice concerning each of these questions. However, the selection of examples presented below demonstrate how a university may implement Indigenous cultural competency at the governance and broader operational level.

Current Exemplars of Good Practice  

Example 1. University governance is an aspect of institutional cultural competence which encompasses all aspects of a University’s operations, including teaching and learning, human resources, research activity and external engagement. The University of Hawaii System’s Strategic Plan: Entering the University’s Second Century 2002-2010, provides an example of how the inter-related dimensions of institutional cultural competence can be enabled to the betterment of indigenous peoples and the university as a whole. The central commitment & core value of the Strategy is ‘Aloha’; a concept which embraces respect for the history, traditions, and culture of Hawai‘i’s indigenous people. The three primary System Goals and Objectives of the Strategy are to build a:

  1. Model Local, Regional, and Global University.
      
  2. Transform the international profile of the University of Hawai‘i system as a distinguished resource in Hawaiian and Asian-Pacific affairs, positioning it as one of the world’s foremost multicultural centers for global and indigenous studies.
      
  3. To strengthen the crucial role that the University of Hawai‘i system performs for the indigenous people and general population of Hawai‘i by actively preserving and perpetuating Hawaiian culture, language, and values.

 The University of Hawaii System’s Strategic Plan: Entering the University’s Second Century 2002-2010 contains 17 primary guidelines for the promotion and development of cultural competencies to ensure culturally healthy and responsive higher education learning environments in the Hawaiian context:

  1. Promote growth and development to strengthen cultural identity, academic knowledge and skills, pono decision making, and ability to contribute to one’s…local and global communities.
      
  2. Practice Hawaiian heritage, traditions and language to nurture one’s man ii and perpetuate the success of the whole learning community.
      
  3. Incorporate cultural traditions, language, history, and values in meaningful holistic processes to nourish the emotional, physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being of the learning community.
      
  4. Utilize multiple pathways and multiple formats to assess what has been learned and honour this process to nurture the quality of learning within the community.
      
  5. Promote respect for how the Hawaiian cultural worldview contributes to diversity and global understanding to improve society.
      
  6. Invite on-going participation with community members to perpetuate traditional ways of knowing, learning, teaching and leading to sustain cultural knowledge and resources within the learning community.
      
  7. Foster an awareness of and appreciation for the relationship and interaction among people, time, space, places, and natural elements around them to enhance one’s ability to maintain a “local” disposition with global understandings.
      
  8. Malama the entire learning community and the environment to support formal and informal learning of good stewardship, resource sustainability and spirituality.
      
  9. Engage in Hawaiian language opportunities to increase language proficiency and effective communication skills in a variety of contexts and learning situations utilizing classical, traditional, contemporary and emerging genre.
      
  10. Instil appropriate Hawaiian values, expressions, behaviours and practices to nurture healthy mauli and mana.
      
  11. Support lifelong aloha for Hawaiian language, history, culture, and values to perpetuate the unique cultural heritage of Hawai’i.
      
  12. Encourage communication, participation and active collaboration by the learning community to pursue appropriate educational outcomes for all.
      
  13. Develop an understanding of Hawaiian language, history, culture and values to foster a sense of place, community, and global connection.
      
  14. Foster an understanding of Hawai’i’s history from an indigenous perspective to better Hawai’i’s future.
      
  15. Provide a safe haven to support the physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual health of the total community.
      
  16. Support lifelong aloha for Hawaiian language, history, culture, and values to perpetuate the unique cultural heritage of Hawai’i.
      
  17. Encourage communication, participation and active collaboration by the learning community to pursue appropriate educational outcomes for all.

(Cited in National Association of Indigenous Institutes of Higher Learning, 2007:8-9)
See: http://www.hawaii.edu/ovppp/stratplan/UHstratplan.pdf accessed 15.2.11

Example 2: University of Lethbridge, Canada has established mechanisms and protocols for encouraging and supporting the participation of First Nations peoples in all aspects of the University community. The University collaborates widely to develop programs that are relevant and available to First Nations peoples and works with them to ensure that these partnerships, and the resulting programs, continue to meet all students’ needs.  The University of Lethbridge Business Plan 2008-2012 embeds these aims:

University of Lethbridge Business Plan 2008-2012 Strategy 1B: Improve our commitment to support First Nations education

Actions Expected Results
Undertake research to identify actions that will increase the participation and success of First Nations students at the University. The number of First Nations people attending
and graduating from the University will grow substantially.
In collaboration with appropriate partners, the University will identify, develop, and seek funding for programs that meet the educational aspirations of First Nations people. The number of non-Aboriginal students taking courses that deal with First Nations culture and issues will increase.
Expand opportunities for all students to gain understanding of First Nations cultures and issues.
Encourage and support research to advance First Nations culture, improve the quality of life of First Nations peoples, and improve relationships between First Nations and other communities. The University will expand the number of
teachers, managers, and others with academic, cultural, and professional knowledge and skills related to First Nations culture.
Initiate programs of support for Aboriginal students. Support services to First Nations students will mprove and will focus more on improving
recruitment and retention.

See: http://www.uleth.ca/vpadmin/Documents/Biz_Plan_08-12_Version_1.2_Mar 19-08 BOG APPROVED.pdf - University of Lethbridge, Canada Business Plan 2008-2012

Example 4. The University of Auckland has a Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori and is committed to promoting Māori presence and achievement in teaching, learning and research with the goal of contributing to Māori intellectual and cultural achievement. The University is committed to the rights and obligations to Māori peoples articulated in the Te Tiriti or Treaty of Waitangi and offers all general and academic staff the opportunity to learn about the Treaty to broaden their understanding of its role in university operations in both the present and future. In keeping with its commitment to the principles and rights acknowledged under the Treaty, the University places a particular emphasis on promoting Māori presence and participation in all aspects of University life and governance, including encouraging teaching, learning and research in a range of fields important to Māori peoples. The Rūnanga at the University of Auckland is responsible for a range of areas from curriculum development through to links with the wider Māori community and is a sub-committee of Senate and Council, chaired by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Māori).
See: http://www.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/home/about/Māori-at-the-university
See: http://www.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/home/about/Māori-at-the-university/ma-runanga
See:http://www.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/home/about/Māori-at-the-university/ma-the-treaty-of-waitangi 

Example 5. The management structure at the Auckland University of Technology includes an Pro Vice Chancellor Māori Advancement position. The inclusion of an Office of the Pro Vice Chancellor Māori Advancement in the University’s management structures reflects the institution’s commitment to The Treaty of Waitangi and Māori Advancement. As well as the Pro Vice Chancellor Māori Advancement, the establishment of the Māori Advancement Advisory Committee ensures that staff and students from across the University are able to actively contribute to enhancing university’s commitment to The Treaty of Waitangi and Māori Advancement.
See: http://www.aut.ac.nz/community/Māori - Office of the Pro Vice Chancellor Māori Advancement
See: http://www.aut.ac.nz/community/Māori/maac - Māori Advancement Advisory Committee

Example 6. The University of Otago in New Zealand has a Māori Strategic Framework which outlines and guides the university in its commitment to Māori peoples. In keeping with the principles of the Framework, the university has established the Office of Māori Development (OMD). The main role of the OMD is to provide leadership to both academic and service divisions and to create opportunities for information sharing, clear communication and collaboration. The Office also manages the University’s Treaty partnerships and a variety of other projects associated with Māori development at the university.
See: http://www.otago.ac.nz/prodcons/groups/public/documents/webcontent/otago005301.pdf - Māori Strategic Framework 2007-2012
See: http://Māori.otago.ac.nz/Māori-at-otago/Māori-staff

Example 7. New Zealand’s Lincoln University has a number of senior Māori positions within the governance structures of the university, including an Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Māori), Pro Vice Chancellor leading the Centre for Māori and Indigenous Planning and Development and Pro Vice Chancellor Office of Māori and Pacifica Development.
See: http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/staff-profile?staffid=hirini.matunga - Assistant Vice Chancellor (Māori)
See: http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/About-Lincoln-University/University-structure-and-staff/Staff-and-faculties/Faculty-of-Environment-Society-and-Design/Centre-for-Mori-and-Indigenous-Planning-and-Development/#992 - Centre for Māori and Indigenous Planning and Development
See: http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/Māori-students/Te-Manutaki/ - Office of Māori and Pacifica Development.

Example 8. The Waikato University of New Zealand has a Pro-Vice Chancellor Māori Office to provide executive leadership in supporting the University to meet its commitments as set out in the University Charter, Investment Plan, and Māori Plan. The Māori Plan or Whanake Ake, has been developed under the leadership of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Māori) and in close consultation with Māori staff across the University, Māori students representing each Faculty, School and College of the university, and the Te Rōpū Manukura. The Whanake Ake or Māori Plan is part of the University's integrated planning framework and guides the University in the delivery of all of the Māori dimensions of the University Strategy.
See: http://www.waikato.ac.nz/provcMāori/ - Pro-Vice Chancellor Māori Office
See: http://www.waikato.ac.nz/about/corporate/Māori.shtml - The Māori Plan

Example 9. Massey University in New Zealand has a visible and active Māori presence in senior management including a Deputy Vice Chancellor and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Māori and Pasifika and a Director Pasifika. The university has well established policies, procedures and protocols to guide meaningful inclusion of Māori peoples in university life, governance and decisionmaking which are in keeping with the university’s commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.
See: http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/research/phd-administration/scholarships-and-awards-administration/scholarships-committee.cfm
See: http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/Māori/

Example 10. The University of Saskatchewan in Canada has recently developed a policy and procedural framework for a whole-of-institution approach to improving outcomes for Aboriginal students and staff of the university and to guide the institution in its engagement with Saskatchewan peoples. This framework builds on the initiatives and structures of the 2003 Forging New Relationships: The Foundational Document on Aboriginal Initiatives at the University of Saskatchewan.
See: http://www.usask.ca/ip/inst_planning/docs/Aboriginal+summary+document+for+workshop+Jan-19-2010+FINAL.pdf  -. Advancing the University of Saskatchewan’s Aboriginal Imperative Draft , Jan. 19, 2010
See: http://www.usask.ca/ip/inst_planning/docs/new_Aborginal_Strategic_Plan_Revisedv2FINAL.pdf - Forging New Relationships: The Foundational Document on Aboriginal Initiatives at the University of Saskatchewan October, 2003

Example 11. The University of British Columbia in Canada has developed an Aboriginal Strategic Plan which outlines ten major areas of action for the university, providing a framework within which the many current initiatives undertaken by faculties and staff of the university can be be better integrated and built upon for the systemic implementation of the principles of institutional cultural competence. The President’s Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Affairs was formed comprising community members to provide ongoing input to the university on Aboriginal affairs and evaluate the university’s progress in achieving the aims of the Aboriginal Strategic Plan. The Okanagan Strategic Action Plan acts as a supplement to the Strategic Plan and seeks to reflect the distinctive features, opportunities, and potential of the university’s Okanagan campus.
See: http://www.ubc.ca/okanagan/provost/__shared/assets/Strategic_Action_Plan_Feb_17_201015151.pdf - Aboriginal Strategic Plan

See: http://aboriginal.ubc.ca/strategic-plan/presidents-advisory-committee/- The President’s Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Affairs

The Great Basin College, Nevada’s 2009-2016 Strategic Plan embeds the university’s commitment to ‘celebrating the rich and unique history of our region and its indigenous peoples while also cultivating appreciation of the diversity among us, in the region and the world, during the present day, so that after they complete their time with us, our students are prepared to actively participate as members of the global community’. This commitment is made tangile through implementation of university-wide and/or Faculty level strategies, policies, procedures and protocols to enhance indigenous equity and participation in the life and governance of the university.
See: http://www2.gbcnv.edu/planning/ - Great Basin College 2009-2016 Strategic Plan

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