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Indigenous Student Enrolment and Retention

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I N D I G E N O U S S T U D E N T E N R O L M E N T A N D R E T E N T I O N As a result of COVID-19, some staff and faculty of post-secondary institutions are confronting new or intensified challenges supporting the enrolment and retention of First Nations, M├ętis, Inuit, and Afro-Indigenous students. There are many reasons why students might withdraw or hold off from enrolment considering how COVID-19 impacts all students. For Indigenous students, however, the causes of enrolment and retention challenges might also include structural and systemic barriers that should be addressed. On December 15, 2020, staff and faculty from across Canada came together for a Virtual Sharing Circle to discuss the barriers that lead to challenges in enrolment and retention impacting the Indigenous students they support as well as how they are guiding students during these times. The following information emerged from these discussions. Student's personal aversion to online learning (e.g. online learning means feeling disconnected from instructors, not as enjoyable or engaging as in-class learning, not the 'student experience' they expected, etc.) Digital barriers (e.g. weak Wi-Fi connection, no access to laptop or computer, still building digital literacy skills, etc.) Environmental limitations (e.g. lack of personal space at home, lack of facility in community that could support online learning environment, etc.) Impacts on mental well-being (e.g anxiety about online learning) New and/or intensified challenges with meeting deadlines Feeling overwhelmed by barrage of emails No face-to-face time with counsellors, Elders, or their peers Experiencing 'Zoom fatigue' Financial limitations (e.g. increased financial burden, students may loose sponsorship because the online environment is not conducive to their learning, etc.) New and/or intensified Indigenous recruitment strategies place additional burden on staff T H E B A R R I E R S I N T H E W A K E O F C O V I D - 1 9 Some of the barriers impacting Indigenous student enrolment and retention as identified in the Virtual Sharing Circle include:

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