Wuyagiba Study Hub in Arnhem Land: Two-Way University Education on Country

Wuyagiba Study Hub students and staff. Courtesy of Australian Government, 2020.

Between the two remote Aboriginal communities of Numbulwar and Ngukurr in south east Arnhem Land, is the Wuyagiba Study Hub providing mob with university preparation courses on Country. The study hub’s classrooms, student dorms and staff accommodation are literally built on-Country out of glamping style tents at the Wuyagiba Outstation on the Gulf of Carpentaria.The two-way learning program, founded in 2018, is administered and run by the Wuyagiba Bush Hub Aboriginal Corporation, in partnership with Macquarie University. This style of learning is the first of its kind in Australia, as the students are taught both traditional knowledge and conventional curriculum (Wuyagiba Study Hub, 2018).

The Bush University creates the opportunity for the Numbulwar and Ngukurr Elders to share knowledge of culture and their Country. Upon receiving the NT Seniors Month recognition in August, Kevin Guyurruyurru Rogers, Ngukurr elder, community leader and educator explained the significance of mob having university education in a culturally supportive context:

“We want to encourage more students from across Arnhem land to come and study at the Hub, to build their skills and be somebody for their community… It is vitally important that our students develop their academic skills and gain full qualifications on what they want to be in life.

…We want our young people to run our communities again, not outsiders. We want our people to be teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, ranger coordinators and business owners. To achieve this we need students studying both ways of education at the highest level.”

On Country classroom at Wuyagiba Study Hub. Courtesy of Macquarie University, 2019.

Wuyagiba Study Hub is extremely proud that their two-way Higher Education program has helped close the 30 year university gap at Ngukurr, Numbulwar and the surrounding areas. In its first year, the hub exceeded expectations as 13 of the 15 students who graduated from the course enrolled at Macquarie University, and the others remained studying education and Indigenous environmental management. Supported by funding from the Federal Government’s Department of Education and Training, the Hub has gone from strength-to-strength. In 2020, they opened their doors to students from outside of south east Arnhem Land, and in 2021 the Hub now offers a Certificate 1 in Mechanics, and a first-of-its-kind micro-credential Indigenous Science course conducted on Country (Wuyagiba Study Hub, 2018).

In an interview with the Northern Land Council, Mr Rogers (2021) explained what the cultural units in this new Indigenous science course focus on:

"It seems old fashioned but it's very important that we maintain our cultural aspects.

We teach them about bush medicine, bush tucker, fire, seasons, tribal relationships and all that. It’s pretty exciting, we’re doing a language revitalisation thing too.”

At Yarn, we are passionate about supporting and spreading awareness to the wider Australian community about Indigenous corporations and education providers that are committed to revitalising and sustaining Indigenous language, culture, art and community. So, as the Wuyagiba Study Hub continues to expand, we wish them the very best on their path to helping provide Indigenous youth with academic, economic and cultural empowerment, for generations to come!