With much of rural and regional Australia still suffering from the effects of drought, the idea of tertiary study for some families is still out of reach. Whilst there is funding support through HECS-HELP and other schemes it is the cost of relocation, course materials and living away from home expenses that can make the idea of further study just a pipe dream for some.
Ensuring all Australians are afforded the same opportunities to access tertiary study the Australian Government developed the Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships Program. The Program supports undergraduate, postgraduate and Vocational Education and Training (VET) students from regional and rural areas of Australia to undertake a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) course, including in the fields of health and agricultural science.
Administered by QTAC, successful scholarship applicants receive funding of up to $18,000 to assist with the financial costs of study, and a further $500 to support an internship of their choice.
Past recipients of the scholarships have used the funds to assist with relocation and accommodation costs, study materials and living expenses. Taking some of the financial pressures away has allowed them to focus on studying and achieving success in their chosen fields.
Bachelor of Aviation student (Swinburne University), James Stonehouse, a past recipient of a scholarship says, “It’s been incredibly helpful”. His course is expensive, and the scholarship has helped with many associated costs such as flight uniform, paying for flying hours, books and his headset. Originally from Tasmania, without the scholarship James would have had to take a year off to save up the money to help fund his studies. He says knowing he is covered financially was a huge relief and took a lot of the stress and pressure off studying. James says, “It’s quite easy to apply for so you would be crazy not to do it”.
Known as the ‘home of the Australian rice industry’ Leeton in New South Wales has experienced hardship from the effects of drought given how much water is required to produce rice. Former Leeton resident, Gianna Fiumara received a scholarship giving her the financial means to relocate to Queensland and study a Bachelor of Advanced Science at the University of Queensland. Gianna’s advice to those thinking of applying is “Go for it. You can’t really lose anything, and it will have a positive impact on your life while you study.”
Patrick Swallow has just completed his first year of a Bachelor of Agribusiness from Curtin University. Moving from a farm in regional Western Australia to study in Perth, Patrick believes the scholarship has allowed him to perform better in his course because he was able to focus on studying, rather than needing to work during the semesters. He only works during semester breaks.
QTAC CEO, Dr John Griffiths, welcomed the opportunity to support the Department of Education and Training and highlighted the value of the Program to regional and rural students. “With tertiary education offers still flowing out across Australia, students are now turning their attention to how they will support their study endeavours financially. The Program is a great initiative, offering regional students the chance to pursue a career in STEM related fields, by easing the financial burden associated with study,” Dr Griffiths said.
Scholarship applications close Friday, 1 February 2019.