Making all the difference
Financial stress is always a serious burden to bear but when it is combined with the added challenge of University study, it can become almost intolerable.
The UTS Faculty of Law seeks to ease this burden with its Law Equity Scholarship program.
Since it began in 2011, seven students have received the scholarship which provides $20,000 cash and access to a Mentor over the course of a four-year degree.
One of the current recipients, Grace Stals is in her third year of a combined Bachelor of Laws and Communications degree majoring in Social and Political Science.
Grace told the Law Equity Scholarship Reception that before receiving the scholarship in 2016, she worried that she would not be able continue her studies:
Financial stress had been present my entire life, and for the first time I could focus on my studies without that stress. My power bill was no longer a panic attack; My shoes were no longer falling apart; I was able to replace my broken laptop. These stressors that go on outside the classroom really do inform what goes on inside the classroom, and the scholarship has allowed me to engage in university in a way I didn’t think possible.
Another current recipient, Max Saker was facing similar issues when he began his combined Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and Bachelor of Laws degree earlier this year:
For me, heading into university for the first time was a perplexing event. The wonderment provided by the university was amazing; new experiences and new faces everywhere, but at the same time a looming fear was also present. How will I manage my expenses? How will I find time for all of my studies? Am I going to be ok? These questions culminated as a mental weight. I am happy to say, this scholarship has removed that weight.
Earlier this year, UTS Law had a plan to seek enough donor support to establish the scholarship fund in perpetuity.
Law Dean, Professor Lesley Hitchers says they’ve now reached this milestone:
One of our valued supporters has last month provided a major gift which has taken the Law Equity Scholarship fund into perpetuity. We now have half a million dollars invested in supporting four students per year, and I am so grateful to Rob Coombe, an alumnus himself, for this very generous gift.
Rob Coombe is Executive Chairman of the Generation Development Group and graduated with a UTS Law degree in 1990.
In 2011, he was awarded the prestigious UTS Alumni of the Year for Excellence, in recognition of his achievements in the business community and social sector.
He says one of the reasons he chose the UTS Law degree was because he could not afford to study full-time and UTS Law offered the degree part-time.
Mr Coombe has a keen understanding of what it’s like to struggle financially as a student and has been involved in the Equity Scholarship program since it began eight years ago.
He says he is committed to helping students who need support and is honoured to be involved:
I am happy to contribute because it combines my love of UTS with my passion for making a difference. It’s a great feeling to be supporting access to education for those who could not otherwise afford it - I would urge others to continue to dig an and make a contribution.”
Now that the permanent fund is established, the Law Faculty is aiming even higher with the goal of doubling the number of equity scholarships offered each year.
Professor Hitchens says it’s part of what UTS Law is all about :
We are determined to ensure that our Law graduates come from backgrounds as diverse and varied as the clients they will serve. Just as we have made a difference in their lives, we are confident that our scholarship recipients will go on to make a difference themselves.
Details about the scholarship fund and how to donate can be found on the Law Equity Scholarship page on the Faculty website.
Photographs from the Law Equity Scholarship Reception can be viewed here