Bank­ing on next gen­er­a­tion

Schol­ar­ships a boost into ag sec­tor

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News -

RU­RAL Bank has opened ap­pli­ca­tions for its 2018 na­tional schol­ar­ship pro­gram to the next gen­er­a­tion of agri­cul­tural lead­ers.

Ru­ral Bank’s 2018 pro­gram will see an in­creased in­vest­ment in the num­ber of schol­ar­ships avail­able, with up to 15 ter­tiary schol­ar­ships of $5000 avail­able for first-time un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents ea­ger to be­gin their ca­reers in the Australian agri­cul­ture sec­tor.

This num­ber has risen from nine schol­ar­ships awarded in 2017.

While the lo­ca­tion where stu­dents ei­ther com­pleted sec­ondary school­ing or plan to un­der­take their uni­ver­sity stud­ies is not part of the se­lec­tion cri­te­ria, based on pre­vi­ous years’ ap­pli­ca­tions, Ru­ral Bank ex­pects the ma­jor­ity of ap­pli­cants will come from re­gional com­mu­ni­ties.

“Al­most 30 per cent of Aus­tralians live in re­gional areas, yet they com­prise fewer than 20 per cent of uni­ver­sity en­rol­ments,” Ru­ral Bank CEO man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Alexan­dra Gart­mann said.

“In some in­stances, stu­dents who do choose to pur­sue fur­ther study are forced to re­lo­cate hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres away and are of­ten chal­lenged by sim­ply meet­ing the cost of ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, in light of ad­verse sea­sonal con­di­tions and com­pet­ing pri­or­i­ties on the farm.”

Peo­ple from ma­jor cities are twice as likely to hold a de­gree than those from re­gional and re­mote areas. In an ef­fort to bridge this alarm­ing ed­u­ca­tional divide, Ru­ral Bank is tar­get­ing out­stand­ing stu­dents who are ded­i­cated to mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

“Through our schol­ar­ship pro­gram, we are able to play a role in as­sist­ing these stu­dents to pur­sue a re­ward­ing ca­reer in agri­cul­ture by re­mov­ing some of the bar­ri­ers they face and ul­ti­mately help­ing to bridge the ed­u­ca­tional divide in re­gional Aus­tralia,” Ms Gart­mann said.

In 2015, Cait­lyn Daf­fey was awarded a Ru­ral Bank Schol­ar­ship to help her pur­sue a ca­reer in vet­eri­nary sci­ence that oth­er­wise may not have been pos­si­ble.

Trav­el­ling thou­sands of kilo­me­tres from her home in Bal­larat to study at Townsville’s James Cook Uni­ver­sity, Cait­lyn’s story demon­strates both the ex­treme chal­lenges faced by re­gional stu­dents, and also the true value of the Ru­ral Bank Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram.

“Fi­nan­cial sup­port from Ru­ral Bank was a great help to me. It took the pres­sure off so that I was able to con­cen­trate more on my stud­ies rather than wor­ry­ing about money,” Ms Daf­fey said.

Schol­ar­ship re­cip­i­ents will re­ceive fi­nan­cial sup­port to the value of $5000 for the first year of their stud­ies to con­tribute to the costs of ac­com­mo­da­tion, travel, course ma­te­ri­als, study equip­ment and tu­tor­ing.

Sub­ject to aca­demic per­for­mance, the schol­ar­ship fund­ing could be ex­tended to sup­port their sec­ond year of study.

Ap­ply for the 2018 Ru­ral Bank Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram be­fore Jan­uary 29, 2018. More in­for­ma­tion at www.ru­ral­bank.com.au/schol­ar­ships.

❝Stu­dents

who do choose to pur­sue fur­ther study are forced to re­lo­cate hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres away... — Alexan­dra Gart­mann

PHOTO: RU­RAL BANK

HELP­ING HAND: Cait­lyn Daf­fey is a Ru­ral Bank Schol­ar­ship win­ner.

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