Musicians, a former teacher and veteran soldier among first to receive Ramsay scholarships6th July 2021
A flautist, former teacher, ultra-marathon runner and veteran soldier are among 20 young Australians who will head abroad to study at the world’s best universities under the country’s newest and most expensive post-graduate scholarship program.
Fourteen men and six women have been awarded the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation’s Rhodes-style scholarships, which have been offered for the first time this year and pay postgraduate students up to $85,000 annually to study at top international universities.
The students will attend universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard, as well as University College London and New York University. One successful candidate wants to translate her public health research into real-world change in Australia’s Indigenous communities and the Asia Pacific; another will study 19th-century vocal and violin performance practice to share classical music with the wider community.
The scholarships – announced last year and offered for the first time for study in the second half of 2021 – have topped the funds offered to Rhodes and John Monash scholars to become the country’s most generous.
Sydney University graduate Jack Hume, 29, will study his PhD in philosophy at University College London. He said he applied for the Ramsay scholarship because it offered a rare chance to receive domestic support for philosophy studies.
“COVID has led to a reduction of funds allocated to [students wanting to study internationally] and made global study even less viable. These scholarships have expanded the horizons for philosophy postgraduates when it’s most needed. Other scholarships don’t have a strong track record for supporting philosophy,” he said.
The Ramsay Centre’s focus on western civilisation and the humanities has seen it support several students within the law, philosophy and social science disciplines. Other students’ choices include masters in architecture, modern Chinese studies and theoretical physics.
Mr Hume – a percussionist who has previously worked at The Ethics Centre – will write his thesis on why liberal democracies should fund the arts. “It’s subject to a lot of controversy. Critics argue that arts funding is elitist in some way, or unjustified in the face of pressing needs in health and education. I want to develop a new justification for arts funding which illustrates the importance of the arts to all citizens [and] helps make the Australian arts sector more accessible and diverse,” he said.
In a statement, the Ramsay Centre said the chosen candidates were “outstanding, thoughtful, imaginative young Australians, committed to advancing a richer and deeper understanding of our civilisation”.