Melbourne University scholarship plan earns support from North East teachers

FIRST THOUGHTS: Year 12 students Georgia Don, 18, and Cameron Taylor, 17, say the costs can affect decisions about university courses. Picture: NICHOLAS QUIHAMPTON
FIRST THOUGHTS: Year 12 students Georgia Don, 18, and Cameron Taylor, 17, say the costs can affect decisions about university courses. Picture: NICHOLAS QUIHAMPTON

North East schools have welcomed a new tertiary scholarship program, saying regional students continue to face extra expenses if wanting to study in the capital cities.

Melbourne University on Wednesday announced a $5000 Melbourne Principals Scholarship would be awarded every year to a student from every secondary school in Victoria.

Deputy vice-chancellor Carolyn Evans said the university wanted to look beyond high ATARs and enrol more diverse students from around the state.

Beechworth Secondary College principal Patricia Broom said assisting country students was important.

“Kids in rural settings, no matter what their background, it’s always much harder to access university, just by distance, and having to move into the area,” she said.

“We need more opportunities to be able to identify students who we know would do exceptionally well but for whatever reasons haven’t managed to get a certain result.”

Vern Hilditch, executive principal of Wodonga Senior Secondary College and Wodonga Middle Years College, said many courses required more than a particular ATAR anyway, for example an interview or folio as well.

 “It’s great that universities are looking for the broad picture of what students will bring to their university, not just a high score through formal exams,” he said.

Wodonga Senior Secondary College year 12 students Georgia Don and Cameron Taylor, fresh from completing their General Achievement Test on Wednesday, thought the plan sounded positive.

“Melbourne is expensive, so that would definitely help,” Cameron said.

“It definitely comes down to cost a lot because you have to think about finding a place and how you’re going to get there, also then the classes, so giving the scholarships would take off a lot of the weight and the worry about trying to supplement that,” Georgia added.

Catholic College Wodonga career education and development leader Sandie McKoy said the scholarship would reduce the significant financial burden families faced when their child had to move away for study..

“It adds to existing scholarship programs offered by other universities such as Victoria, Federation and La Trobe Universities, giving students a wide range of choices when considering their university and financial options,” she said. 

Victory Lutheran College principal John Thompson said the program was a tremendous opportunity to help regional students study at Melbourne University.

“As principal, it is pleasing to be able to nominate a student for a tertiary scholarship based on the student’s participation, achievement and community service whilst at school,” he said.

- with FAIRFAX MEDIA

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