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Scholarships program for student support

[by Trease Clarke]

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Charles Sturt Development Officer Mr Justin Williams, Birrang Enterprises Operations Manager Mr Tim Smith, and Charles Sturt First Nations Student Adviser Ms Julie Bennett. Image: supplied

First Nations students considering a tertiary education can dream big with an additional $225,000 in scholarships being offered through Charles Sturt University. 

The Birrang Enterprise Development Company LTD Aboriginal Scholarships are part of Charles Sturt's suite of scholarships valued at close to $10 million.

These scholarships will assist First Nations students to gain access to tertiary education by offering financial support for relocation, accommodation, and other educational expenses.

Each scholarship is worth $45,000 to be spread across three years and is available to commencing First Nations students studying via any mode (on campus, online or mixed mode) at Charles Sturt in Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Port Macquarie, and Wagga Wagga.

Birrang Enterprises Operations Manager Mr Tim Smith said the company was proud to support First Nations employment journeys.

“Birrang was established in 2003 and has been in continuous operation since its establishment,” Mr Smith said.

“It was established as a regional-based community service provider offering employment and related services. One of those is the Driver Licence Access Program, where we travel to communities all over NSW to assist Aboriginal and disadvantaged people in getting licenced.

“Getting your driver’s licence is taken for granted by many, as is accessing tertiary education. This scholarship program will give First Nations students the opportunity to get behind the wheel of their careers, opening up a world of opportunity for them.

“Scholarships like this don’t just change the lives of those awarded them, it changes the mindset of those around them. Their friends and family see the impact of further education and training and it motivates them to strive for more.”

Charles Sturt Development Officer Mr Justin Williams welcomed the scholarships for prospective First Nations students.

“Commencing a university education can be prohibitive when it comes to common financial barriers, such as the cost to relocate, pay for accommodation and secure the relevant textbooks and equipment required for a particular course,” Mr Williams said.

“These scholarships will transform what was an impossibility for many First Nations students into the achievable by taking that financial burden away.”

With one of the highest First Nations enrolment rates in the country, Charles Sturt is uniquely positioned for maximum positive impact on educational outcomes for First Nations people.

Mr Williams said each campus hosts a First Nations Student Centre, giving students access to navigating the challenges of university via the First Nations connect program.

“When a trusted partner like Birrang comes on board with Charles Sturt it helps create bespoke opportunities to enable success,” he said.

“We are excited to see the impact of this generous gift, and hope to encourage greater First Nations success through the transformative power of education.”

Charles Sturt offered more than 650 scholarships in 2022, valued at approximately $5.5 million. Additionally, in August it was announced that Transgrid will provide $2 million over the next seven years to support the education of 100 civil engineering students at Charles Sturt in Bathurst. An additional $4 million was announced in September to assist first-year students with the costs of accommodation at Charles Sturt’s six regional campuses.

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