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Following discussion taken at the July meeting of the University Council, the Chancellor John Dornbusch made a major announcement at the Graduation Ceremonies to establish the USQ Student Endowment Fund (USEF).
USQ Student Endowment Fund
The purpose of this fund is to provide a perpetual and growing financial resource, the income from which will fund bursaries and scholarships to students. It will be particularly important for those current and prospective students from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are increasingly finding that the incidental and living costs associated with a higher education are a barrier to enrolment and successful progression.
The University will commit $5 million immediately to the Fund and provide up to a further $10 million to match private donations in its first three years.
Those of you who have been following the public debate about higher education de-regulation over the last two years will know that regardless of any changes to the current higher education policy settings, the financial capacity of students to support themselves and their families is a major factor in their decision to study. It also has a major impact on the speed with which they are able to progress successfully in their studies. I know of no higher education commentator in Australia who thinks these pressures will lessen in the foreseeable future.
I am sure you will recognise this initiative as a major strategic step for the University in support of its current and future students. It continues a long tradition at USQ of holding our students and their welfare at the forefront of our strategic thinking. Of USQ’s more than 28,000 enrolments, 33% are from low socioeconomic status backgrounds, 56% are first in family to attend university, 67% study online and 54% are from regional or remote locations. Some 66% of students are “mature age”.
USQ continues to be a university that provides opportunity for students and seeks to break down those barriers that impede higher education engagement in the communities we serve. Given this strategic focus, USQ is acutely conscious of the higher education costs borne directly by students, perhaps more so than for many other universities. Potentially, generations of future USQ students will benefit from this important strategic initiative in the years and decades ahead.
While there is much work still to be done to establish the USEF within the University, it is clear that for the time ahead our focus will be to build on the significant establishment funds provided by the University so that we maximise its potential to support our students. Over the next 18 months it will be particularly important so that we commence our 50th year celebrations in 2017 by making significant numbers of bursaries and scholarships available to our students and that over the years ahead the numbers of students we support grows.
In the months ahead all members of the University community - alumni, current and former staff, friends of USQ across all our campuses, our legion of corporate supporters and community members – will have opportunities to contribute to the Endowment Fund. When that opportunity presents for you as a USQ staff member, I hope you will give it serious consideration.
I also hope that you can join me in taking some pride as the University progresses this important step in support of our current and future students as they seek to enrich their lives through a successful higher education at USQ.
Further information can be found at www.usq.edu.au/endowment-fund
Professor Jan Thomas
Vice-Chancellor and President