How to ease the grow­ing bur­den

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Scholarships -

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.


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