Smooth going on far shores
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.