How to ease the growing burden
STUDENTS in Australia are labouring under increasing financial stress, as a report earlier this year made clear.
Among other things, the report from the Australian ViceChancellors Committee showed that about 25 per cent of undergraduates obtain loans that enable them to continue studying, and that nearly half the full- time postgraduate coursework students had living costs higher than their earnings last year.
This year’s federal budget contained some alleviating measures, as Julie Summers explains on this page. Meanwhile, the number of commonwealth scholarships for domestic undergraduates has increased, as Julia Hinde explains in her report on government scholarships on Page 2.
But for the 40 per cent of fulltime undergraduate students whose studies suffer because of paid work demands, according to the AVCC report, and the postgraduate students who struggle to complete their programs because of financial pressures, scholarships can be a godsend.
This special section gives a taste of the bewildering range of scholarships on offer from government as well as from private sector philanthropy.
There are not enough scholarships to go around, of course, but forces of change are at work. Universities are under pressure to offer more scholarships from the increasing revenues they earn from student fees and charges. As Queensland University of Technology vice- chancellor Peter Coaldrake said when explaining his university’s $ 10 million program for new scholarships, ‘‘ If we are leveraging additional fees, we have to make a serious gesture towards relieving dents of burden.’’
The number of merit- based scholarships is also likely to soar as universities strive harder in the global grab for future research stars.
But it’s not only about academic merit. There are thousands of scholarships for which eligibility is very narrowly defined. Finding the right scholarship requires some effort, but a couple of hours spent online or asking about on campus may win you thousands of dollars.
A trip to the university scholarship office is a good first step, though many have information that is poorly organised or less than complete. Only a few, including the University of NSW, have searchable databases that include external scholarships as well as those specific to the university. You should also ask lecturers, faculty offices, halls of residence, alumni associations and finance offices. Useful websites are listed throughout this section, and below.
Persistence, thoroughness, flexibility and adroit use of your family background ( such as being descended from a member of the armed forces, from a rural area or having a particular religious background) will increase your chances of success. And start now: most closing dates are at the end of October.