Why do students enrol in archaeology at Australian universities? Understanding pre-enrolment experiences, motivations, and career expectations

Publication Name

Australian Archaeology


This study presents the first data on a level one archaeology student cohort, exploring their demographic composition and motivations for enrolling, as well as external stressors such as health and caring responsibilities that may influence student study goals, retention, and needs. A survey of 107 students enrolled in introductory level archaeology units at 13 Australian universities was undertaken in Semester 1, 2021. The results show a diverse cohort by age, gender, and educational background. Consistent with the professional Australian archaeological community, there is little diversity in the ethnicity of enrolled students. Further, many respondents reported having caring responsibilities, and both physical and mental health concerns. Students were motivated to enrol both for general interest and future career pathways; however, there was a poor understanding within the cohort of Australian archaeological job opportunities. These results indicate that there is clearly much to be done in public archaeological engagement and outreach in Australia. What is required of the Australian archaeological community is a concerted effort to improve how the discipline is taught and learned across all levels of education, and a collaborative approach to designing teaching methods suitable for our modern student cohort.

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