Regional JCU student set to benefit from QCoal grant

Giving back to regions vital in QCoal Foundation $30,000 scholarship


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QCoal CEO Sylvia Bhatia and 2017 scholarship recipient Mel Martyn, Clermont.

QCoal CEO Sylvia Bhatia and 2017 scholarship recipient Mel Martyn, Clermont.

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Having a passion for regional and remote Queensland and wanting to give back to those areas is one of the important selection criteria for a popular tertiary scholarship that has just opened for 2020 study.

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Having a passion for regional and remote Queensland and wanting to give back to those areas is one of the important selection criteria for a popular tertiary scholarship that has just opened for 2020 study.

One of the most financially rewarding scholarships available for students attending James Cook University, valued at $30,000 in total, $10,000 a year for three years, it's been offered by the QCoal Foundation for the past four years and is growing in popularity each year.

QCoal Foundation CEO Sylvia Bhatia attributed some of the rapid increase in the number of applications to the drought and flooding events that have impacted regional and remote Queensland communities in recent years.

"When we look at where the additional applications come from, we've noticed a large number come from communities that have experience flood or drought in the prior year," she said.

"We believe this supports our view that the economic burden for students from regional and remote communities to attend university is significant and may be a barrier to attaining tertiary education.

"That's one of the reasons why we established the scholarship program."

According to the official literature, the scholarship was launched to create a pathway to tertiary education for talented students from regional and remote Queensland communities.

Ms Bhatia said the foundation wanted to do something substantial to encourage graduates to bring their skills back to regional areas to improve access to services, and generally add value to the vital communities that make up regional Queensland.

"Data shows JCU has one of the highest number of graduates who work in regional areas, which is why we've partnered with them on this initiative," she said.

The majority of the awardees to date have been from central and north Queensland, highlighting the close association those areas have with the Townsville university, but students from all regional parts of Queensland are eligible.

Scholarships have been awarded to students studying medicine, veterinary science, geology and engineering.

The 2017 recipient Mel Martyn grew up on a property outside Clermont and is now in her third year of veterinary science study.

She said the scholarship has given her the freedom to not work part-time, so she could focus on her studies.

She hopes to eventually work back in a rural area like Clermont in a mixed vet practice.

This year's recipient, Bill Tapp from Bowen is studying first year engineering and said the scholarship helped cover everyday expenses while he was living on campus.

"Without the scholarship I wouldn't have been able to stay in college again next year, so it has really helped me with my studies and day-to-day costs," he said.

"After graduation I hope to get an internship in the Bowen Basin in a mine."

The amount of the scholarship, $10,000 for three years, takes into account advice from JCU regarding living expenses for students, and is seen as an amount that would mean students would be able to afford the move and also be able to concentrate on their studies in the initial years of their degree when many find the transition to university life most daunting.

"When the foundation established the scholarship we wanted to ensure it really created a pathway for regional and remote students to achieve tertiary education," Ms Bhatia said. "It is one of the most lucrative scholarships offered by JCU and this also results in strong interest from talented students across Queensland."

The scholarship is open to first year undergraduate students, and first and second year geology or earth science students.

Foundation chairman Chris Wallin is a geologist so this is a degree close to his heart, which is why scholarship eligibility was broadened for these students.

Ms Bhatia said it was important to note though that the scholarship would be awarded to the best candidate and this was mainly driven by academic achievement, extra-curricular activities and a demonstrated desire to give back to regional and remote communities after graduation.

Applications for the 2020 scholarship close on January 30.

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