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Postgraduate students with disabilities can access great scholarships

James Davis

Careers Commentator
No matter what may have befallen you, we’re here to help. We’ve put a spotlight on some great ways to get funded for postgraduate study.

Thankfully, the Australian government strongly maintains the right for students with disabilities to have the same educational opportunities as everyone else. It’s great that this is enshrined in law, but it’s not always practically the case. Huge medical bills, equipment or rehabilitation costs can easily get in the way of a quality postgraduate education. This can force students with debilitating conditions to work even harder despite not having the same advantages as everyone else.

Fortunately, there are a number of unique scholarships and grants you may not have heard of that help alleviate these costs to a small degree. The wonderful thing about them is they tend not to have ATAR, GPA or other requirements.

Neville A Whiffen Memorial Award - $2,000

This more general program is offered by the University of New South Wales to postgraduate students across all disciplines. Applicants are eligible if they can prove they suffer from at least one of the following conditions to a significant extent:

  • Hearing impairments
  • Sight impairments
  • Any significant physical disability
  • Any specific learning disability
  • Psychiatric disability
  • Brain injury
  • Chronic medical conditions

This makes it a highly inclusive opportunity and one well-worth applying for.

University of Adelaide Special Circumstances Scholarship - $27,082pa

The University of Adelaide offers these programs to students who’ve had their academic performance suffer as a result of their condition. These are financially equivalent to the research training scholarships they normally offer, only these have no academic requirement. This makes them highly accessible, but students must be able to prove their condition and the effect it has had on their studies to gain funding. For instance, revealing steep medical bills that force you to work exceptional hours that cut into study time. Even if you aren’t working long hours, showing that you’ve had to undergo extensive care is evidence enough so long as it has cut into class and study time.

This opportunity is not available across all disciplines, but it’s available across most. To see the full directory of postgraduate degrees accepted, click here.

Monash Support Scholarship - $3,000pa

This is offered to students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, suffering from grievous personal circumstances, disabilities, long-term medical conditions or any combination of the four. Applicants need to prove these as they see fit. Another requirement of the scholarship is maintaining a consistent passing GPA (50%) every semester; failing to do so results in funding being revoked. It’s also a nicety to send letters to donors, informing them of your thankfulness for the opportunity. Although not a requirement, it’s highly recommended.

The Faculty of Law Juris Doctor Equity Scholarship - $10,000pa

The University of New South Wales provides students who are socio-economically disadvantaged with the chance to study the prestigious Juris Doctor. It requires students to meet the prerequisites for entry into the program, which for UNSW are:

  • A bachelor’s degree in any discipline other than law.
  • A credit GPA (65%) or higher. The higher, the better.

This is a great opportunity, even if you’re worried your GPA isn’t high enough, as there are a variety of other circumstances that can sway the odds in your favour.

  • Being an Indigenous Australian
  • Having a disability
  • Being from regional or remote Australia
  • Being a sole parent
  • Having exceptional financial need

Having these isn’t necessary for your application, but it goes a long way to helping if you do. The Juris Doctor is also a fantastic program, which allows you to go from no legal knowledge at all to becoming licensed to practice law in Australia. It’s hard work, but as we’ve written about before, there are ways of getting into a fulfilling law career despite that fact.

Postgraduate Coursework Equity Scholarship - $13,000pa

If law isn’t your thing, then UNSW also offers this more generalised opportunity under the same criteria. Just like with the Juris Doctor program, you need to be able to prove you’re eligible for your course of choice and are indeed socio-economically disadvantaged. Having a disability, being a sole parent or being of Indigenous Australian descent all improve your chances of being granted this funding. It’s available across several disciplines, including:

  • Criminology
  • Journalism
  • Commercial law
  • International law
  • Criminal law

Equity Scholarships Scheme - Variable

These are offered by the Queensland University of Technology at varying rates depending on whether or not you’re a domestic or international student and course duration. The same criteria as scholarships mentioned above apply; you must be from a socio-economically disadvantaged position, but having a disability significantly elevates chances of acquiring one. Students who have the greatest need are prioritised.

Potential total scholarship values:

Course duration Domestic students International students
1 year $1,500 - $5,000 $1,500
2 years $15,000 + an equity computer $1,500 + an equity computer
3 years $22,500 + an equity computer $1,500 + an equity computer
4 years

$30,000 + two equity computers

$1,500 + two equity computers

There are several other value stipulations students ought to observe; these can be read here. An equity computer is a device equipped with USB ports and internet connectivity that’s ready for personal or academic use. These opportunities are therefore quite valuable and worthy of consideration.

No matter where you’re coming from, universities around the country have many different ways to make sure you’re not left behind. These are just a few examples of what’s out there, but we’ve got plenty more should none of these suit your interests. Good luck!