Smooth go­ing on far shores

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Scholarships - Ju­lia Hinde

AUS­TRALIAN stu­dents want­ing to study abroad may find get­ting the nec­es­sary fund­ing to­gether a daunt­ing prospect.

Ac­cord­ing to re­cent re­search, about one in 20 Aus­tralian un­der­grad­u­ates ( 4.8 per cent) stud­ies over­seas as part of their un­der­grad­u­ate de­grees, while al­most 22 per cent of Aus­tralian post­grad­u­ate stu­dents en­rol in in­ter­na­tional re­search pro­grams.

Many will turn to their univer­si­ties or fed­eral gov­ern­ment schemes for sup­port.

But for a lucky few each year, there’s the chance to fol­low in the foot­steps of No­bel lau­re­ates, gov­er­nor- gen­er­als and even prime min­is­ters by win­ning in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned schol­ar­ships to the US, Bri­tain and else­where.

Com­pe­ti­tion for Ful­bright and Rhodes schol­ar­ships and the Gen­eral Sir John Monash Awards may be tough, but the awards carry with them enor­mous ku­dos and fund­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Mark Darby, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Aus­tralianAmer­i­can Ful­bright Com­mis­sion, which an­nu­ally of­fers up to 15 Aus­tralian post­grad­u­ates the op­por­tu­nity to study for be­tween eight and 12 months in the US, a Ful­bright schol­ar­ship opens up a ‘‘ phe­nom­e­nal net­work’’. ‘‘ It car­ries huge ku­dos through­out the US,’’ he ex­plains. ‘‘ And it gives schol­ars ac­cess to re­search data and re­search groups.’’

On the im­por­tance of spend­ing some re­search time over­seas, Darby adds: ‘‘ If you don’t have an in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence ( as part of your re­search de­gree), you’re crazy. It will take you five or six years in the work­place to catch up. Em­ploy­ers are look­ing for peo­ple with in­ter­na­tional per­spec­tive. It opens your eyes to the in­ter­na­tional world, to net­works and con­nec­tions, and to what is pos­si­ble, and what your full po­ten­tial is.’’

Ful­bright schol­ar­ships are jointly funded by the US and Aus­tralian gov­ern­ments as well as in­dus­try and are also avail­able for post­doc­toral study. With the scheme run­ning since 1949, some 2500 Aus­tralians have been Ful­bright schol­ars, in­clud­ing for­mer gov­er­nor- gen­eral Zel­man Cowen and the for­mer head of the Royal So­ci­ety, Robert May of Ox­ford. Ap­pli­ca­tions for 2008 Ful­bright schol­ar­ships close on Au­gust 31.

List­ing for­mer prime min­is­ter Bob Hawke, Aus­tralian No­bel sci­en­tists Howard Florey and John Ec­cles, and cur­rent min­is­ters Mal­colm Turn­bull and Tony Ab­bott among its alumni, the Rhodes schol­ar­ship dates back to 1904 and has seen more than 500 Aus­tralians spend time at Ox­ford Univer­sity in Bri­tain.

The schol­ar­ships are open to those aged 18- 25 who have com­pleted an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree, and are for one to two years of study at Ox­ford. Nine schol­ar­ships are avail­able to Aus­tralian cit­i­zens an­nu­ally. Ap­pli­ca­tions for 2008 close on Septem­ber 3.

Val­ued at up to $ 150,000 over three years, the Gen­eral Sir John Monash Awards, now in their fifth year, of­fer the op­por­tu­nity for up to eight Aus­tralians an­nu­ally to study for a PhD at an over­seas univer­sity.

With no re­stric­tion on the des­ti­na­tion coun­try or univer­sity, the award, which has no age limit, can be used at any univer­sity world­wide as long as it is ‘‘ con­sid­ered to be amongst the global lead­ers in the cho­sen field of study’’.

The award is funded by the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment, sev­eral state gov­ern­ments and in­dus­try. Ap­pli­ca­tions for 2008 close on Au­gust 31. The Men­zies Foun­da­tion also of­fers schol­ar­ships in law and en­gi­neer­ing for post­grad­u­ate stu­dents to study in Bri­tain, as well as sup­port­ing the R. G. Men­zies Schol­ar­ship to Har­vard.

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