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The Indigenous Student Success Program (ISSP) provides supplementary funding to universities to help students take on the demands of university and succeed. Universities can offer scholarships, tutorial assistance, mentoring, safe cultural spaces and other personal support services to First Nations students using ISSP funding. The flexibility of the ISSP assists universities to tailor their services to match student needs.

ISSP funding is prioritised towards the support of First Nations students who are financially disadvantaged and/or from remote and regional areas.

Universities receive ISSP funding based on enrolments, unit success rates and course completions of First Nations students. A special loading also recognises the additional costs associated with assisting Indigenous students from regional and remote areas.

The NIAA is considering undertaking a review of the ISSP Guidelines. More information on this process and how you can be involved will be made available soon.


Applications for new ISSP scholarships should be directed to the Scholarships Office or the Indigenous Higher Education Units at the university where the student intends to study.

There are three types of scholarships offered under the ISSP, they include:

  • Indigenous Commonwealth Education Costs Scholarships which assist with education costs for students enrolled and studying in enabling, undergraduate, honours or post-graduate awards (for example, compulsory text books, study equipment or laptops);
  • Indigenous Commonwealth Accommodation Costs Scholarships which assist with relocation and accommodation costs for students enrolled and studying in enabling, undergraduate, honours or post-graduate awards (for example removalists hire or bond payment, rent assistance); and
  • Indigenous Commonwealth Reward Scholarships acts like a prize for a person who has achieved exceptionally high standards (as determined by the university).

Universities will advise eligible students of their scholarship value, duration and method of payment prior to the start of semester. Other government support such as the ABSTUDY Residential Cost Option, Relocation Scholarships or Student Start-up Loans through Services Australia may impact eligibility for ISSP Scholarships. University Enrolment Offices are best placed to provide advice on the interaction between government financial support and scholarships.

ISSP Funding for Universities

The following information includes data that determines the funding allocation each university receives under ISSP. This information includes the Indigenous student data taken from the Higher Education Statistical database, available on the Department of Education’s website. The most recently published available data is used to calculate the entitlement for each university, in accordance with the funding formula defined in the Indigenous Student Assistance Grants Guidelines 2017.


The ISSP commenced in January 2017. The development of the ISSP was informed by recommendations in the 2012 Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Torres Strait Islander People. The Review argued for amalgamating and reforming Indigenous supplementary funding to ensure it was flexible, simple to administer and had a greater focus on improving retention and completion rates. As a result, the ISSP combined three former programs, the Commonwealth Scholarships Programme; the Indigenous Support Programme; and tutorial support provided under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

In 2018, the National Indigenous Australians Agency conducted a post implementation review of the ISSP to ensure the program was operating effectively. The review included consultations with education stakeholders and an independent Health Check conducted by KPMG.

A number of improvements were made to the program guidelines following the review. More information on the review feedback and outcomes is in the Outcomes – Post-Implementation Review paper.

More Information

Higher Education Support Act 2003 - Indigenous Student Success Program is administered under Part 2-2A.

Indigenous Student Assistance Grants Guidelines 2017


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