November 19, 2014 Nick Preston

Tū Kahika Programme Scholarship

Tū Kahika is an award that supports young Māori students interested in a career in health, into and through the University of Otago’s Foundation Year health sciences course and beyond. Tū Kahika prepares students for further study in health sciences (particularly Health Sciences First Year) by providing wrap-around academic, cultural, pastoral and financial support over the year.

Objectives of the Intervention

Māori are significantly under-represented in the health workforce relative to population size (Ministry of Health, 2006). This under-representation also occurs within a context of marked ethnic inequalities in education and health and Māori experience disproportionately greater health need, morbidity and mortality when compared with non-Māori (Robson & Harris, 2007).

Advancing Māori educational attainment, particularly in science, is vital for increasing Māori health professional numbers. Cram (2010), in a report on the Māori health workforce states, “Māori secondary school students need to be encouraged to study science and then be supported to successfully do so (at personal, pedagogical and curriculum levels)” (p. 18). Unfortunately students studying at Māori language immersion schools, or rural and provincial schools have lower access to senior secondary school science study. Cram further highlights the importance of taking an inter-sectorial approach to achieve Māori health workforce development goals (Cram, 2010).

Tū Kahika is an award that supports young Māori students interested in a career in health, into and through the University of Otago’s Foundation Year health sciences course and beyond.

Tū Kahika prepares students for further study in health sciences (particularly Health Sciences First Year) by providing wrap-around academic, cultural, pastoral and financial support over the year. It works together with different departments within the university, and is part of wider vision.

Origins and rationale of this initiative

It was initiated by the university, but with support from different government institutions. In line with policy objectives, in 2009 the Ministry of Health, Tertiary Education Commission and University of Otago together developed ‘The Otago Project’ to increase Māori student recruitment, retention and achievement in health science programmes at the University of Otago.

Pivotal to the success of the Otago Project was the establishment of the Māori Health Workforce Development Unit (MHWDU) in 2010. Situated within the Division of Health Sciences, the MHWDU has taken a strategic approach to Māori student recruitment, retention and achievement implementing and supporting a number of programmes including Tū Kahika. Following the establishment of the MHWDU and implementation of its student programmes, Māori student recruitment, achievement and retention outcomes have been very promising with demonstrable increases in Māori student entry into Otago University’s health professional programmes.

MHWDU strategy and approach is guided by Māori values and worldview. Framing health workforce initiatives ‘within indigenous world views’ is required for making gains in indigenous health workforce development. Embedding MHWDU activities within a kaupapa Māori framework is also integral to Māori achievement. A kaupapa Māori approach enables Māori staff to relate and operate according to Māori values and norms and be culturally responsive to the needs of a diversity of Māori students. The approach taken does not attempt to ‘shape students to fit’. The institution and a viewpoint that students need to be changed in order to ‘fit in’ is indeed antithetical to a kaupapa Māori approach. Rather, the MHWDU takes a strengths based approach that addresses systemic and organisational challenges and supports students to navigate pathways that will result in their achievement and success.

Target groups intended as beneficiaries of this initiative

As with other indigenous peoples, Māori are significantly under-represented in the health workforce relative to the population size (Ministry of Health, 2006). This under-representation also occurs within a context of marked ethnic inequalities in education and health. Also Māori experience disproportionately greater health need, morbidity and mortality when compared with non-Māori in New Zealand. This project is implemented on the level of students, local communities and the management of institutions.

Political and socio-economic factors that you believe have been important enablers for your initiative

Tū Kahika is a culturally responsive scholarship programme, overseen by the MHWDU, supporting young Māori to complete the University of Otago’s Foundation Year Health Sciences course.

Tū Kahika aims to reduce barriers that Māori students encounter when entering into university study for the first time, and provides a platform for students to increase awareness, preparedness and eligibility for further health science and health professional study. The first phase of Tū Kahika was implemented in 2010 with 14 students gaining scholarships in that year, 19 students in 2011, 10 students in 2012 and 18 scholarship holders in 2013.

The decision for a programme based within a Foundation Year course was based on a recognised need for addressing educational gaps and disadvantage. Māori students in years 11-13 have relatively lower science subject participation and attainment in comparison to non-Māori. Māori students are also disproportionately represented in lower decile schools with relatively few school leavers continuing into tertiary study when compared with students in more affluent schools.

A decile is a 10% grouping, there are ten deciles and around 10% of schools are in each decile. A school’s decile rating indicates the extent to which it draws its students from low socio-economic communities. Decile 1 schools are the 10% of schools with the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic communities, whereas decile 10 schools are the 10% of schools with the lowest proportion of these students. The lower a school’s decile rating, the more funding it gets. The increased funding given to lower decile schools is to provide additional resources to support their students’ learning needs. A decile does not indicate the overall socio-economic mix of the students attending a school or measure the standard of education delivered at a school.

See: http://www.minedu.govt.nz/Parents/AllAges/EducationInNZ/SchoolsInNewZealand/SchoolDecileRatings.aspx

The University of Otago acknowledges the support for Tū Kahika received from the Ministry of Health and the Tertiary Education Commission, and has a wide support-base in the public domain.

Policy:

New Zealand’s health workforce does not reflect New Zealand’s population and, in particular Māori and Pacific peoples are greatly under-represented in all health professions (Robson & Harris, 2007). Furthermore Māori and Pacific populations will grow over the next decades, with increasing demand for quality health services that meet community preferences and needs (Robson & Harris, 2007).

The importance of a representative workforce is reflected in Government policy (Health Workforce Advisory Committee, 2002; Ministry of Health, 2006), University of Otago strategy, and in Division of Health Sciences objectives to ‘contribute to the national good’ (Crampton, Weaver & Howard, 2012). The University of Otago’s Division of Health Sciences is committed to increasing the number of Māori health professional graduates (Crampton, Weaver & Howard, 2012).

In line with policy objectives, in 2009 the Ministry of Health, Tertiary Education Commission and University of Otago together developed ‘The Otago Project’ to increase Māori student recruitment, retention and achievement in health science programmes at the University of Otago. Pivotal to the success of the Otago Project was the establishment of the Māori Health Workforce Development Unit (MHWDU) in 2010. Situated within the Division of Health Sciences, the MHWDU has taken a strategic approach to Māori student recruitment, retention and achievement implementing and supporting a number of programmes including Tū Kahika. Following establishment of the MHWDU and implementation of its student programmes, Māori student recruitment, achievement and retention outcomes have been very promising with demonstrable increases in Māori student entry into Otago University’s health professional programmes.

Overall Programme design and the methods and tools used to reach the goals

The Tū Kahika programme encompasses:

  1. Scholarship components. Through Tū Kahika students are provided: Foundation Year tuition fees; financial contribution to accommodation in a University of Otago Residential College; additional targeted tutorials in core subjects; a Kaiārahi (dedicated support person); activities that foster whanaungatanga (a sense of family and belonging); career development and health career exposure; and professional and cultural development.
  2. Service development and delivery components: Leadership and management; marketing; stakeholder relationships; student recruitment and selection; provision of student services; outcomes monitoring and evaluation.

In Tū Kahika up to 20 Māori students from around New Zealand come together to live and study with the ultimate goal of a health professional career. Students who aspire for a career in health apply for a place in the programme and applicants are shortlisted according to a range of criteria. Shortlisted applicants are interviewed with their whānau (family) in (or close to) their home region. The interview process provides whānau the opportunity to learn about Tū Kahika, Health Sciences First Year and pathways to careers in health. The interview is an opportunity to demystify University and is a starting-point for ongoing relationships. Students who are not accepted in the Tū Kahika programme are given comprehensive study and course advising by the interviewers.

Tū Kahika students are provided:

  • assistance with their transition into university
  • guaranteed accommodation in a Residential College
  • a financial contribution towards accommodation ensures that basic needs (such as food and housing) are met and students benefit from additional academic, pastoral and social support
  • Students’ tuition fees are also paid in full
  • a dedicated Kaiārahi (Coordinator) is employed to work with each student to settle into university and coordinates extra activities including tutorials and professional and cultural development. The Kaiārahi gains a detailed understanding of each student’s learning strengths and challenges and works closely with academic programme components to support positive academic success across the course of the year.

Tū Kahika students receive:

  • guaranteed accommodation in a University of Otago Residential College (either Studholme College or Arana College)
  • $5,000 towards Residential College costs
  • Foundation Year tuition fees paid in full
  • additional tutorials and academic assistance
  • a dedicated Kaiārahi (support person) to assist with orientation through university
  • a strong support network of Māori staff and students
  • professional and cultural development (knowledge of health career pathways and options)
  • university study skills, exam preparation and time management techniques
  • academic preparedness for further tertiary study in health sciences, in particular Health Science First Year (HSFY)

Describe if the project ensured its sustainability

The project is sustainable through support from both the government and the university. Elements have inspired projects in other regions of the world.

Resources used in the initiative

No information available.

Did the intervention reach its objectives?

Tū Kahika is a successful programme. The programme is meeting its objective of contributing to increasing the Māori health workforce in New Zealand by providing effective strategies for Māori students to achieve academically and become prepared for later tertiary study, predominantly in health.

Tū Kahika has provided many students with the opportunity to gain University Entrance, to develop an understanding of the requisite science subjects and to become better academically prepared for HSFY.

The success of the programme is seen in the high levels of retention and achievement in health science study and university education and in the number of students gaining places in ‘difficult to enter’ professional training in medicine and dentistry.

Tū Kahika provides a very effective first year tertiary experience for Māori students, preparing them for later health science study. The programme’s success is founded on being culturally responsive, academically robust and strengths based. Tū Kahika is successfully contributing to increasing the Māori health workforce in New Zealand.

See below some data of developments 2009 – 2011:

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