The Australian National University (ANU) has announced a new scholarship program in a bid to attract potential students put off by the cost of living away from home or moving to a new city.
The means-tested, first-of-its-kind scholarship will offer a place to live on campus in their first year and provide financial and pastoral support for the rest of their degree.
To be implemented between now and 2025, the scholarship will be available to all students who meet the eligibility criteria regardless of where they come from.
An ANU spokesperson said the scholarship recognised that the costs of moving away from the family home can be a barrier to potential students who have the talent and desire to study at ANU.
“We want to remove those barriers,” the spokesperson said.
The university was unable to say exactly how much the program will cost and what the value of a scholarship will be, but the spokesperson said the ANU would invest millions of dollars and also seek philanthropic support for the initiative.
The ACT is experiencing the highest rents in the country and an extremely tight rental market but the university said the measure was not a response to the cost and availability of accommodation in Canberra.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt announced the scholarship during his address on Monday at the launch of the university’s strategic plan for 2025.
He said the ANU was the only research university in the country which attracted students from across the nation, but moving to Canberra to study is expensive.
“Living at home costs far less,” Professor Schmidt said.
“It’s far easier to stay in your home town and go to the local university. And why not? We have many good universities here in Australia.
“I suspect that many young Australians capable of getting in to ANU fail even to consider applying because calculations like these are so daunting.”
Professor Schmidt said no student who had what it takes to get into ANU would need to dream cheaper and choose somewhere else.
“Money worries should no longer be a reason a talented Australians cannot study at their university of choice – and especially their national university. This is a simple and bold idea,” he said.
“We will be the first to fully realise it.”
The ANU already offers scholarships to Indigenous students and, through its innovation admissions policy, places based on year-11 results.