Wider access to higher education

As UQ launches its new initiative, The Queensland Commitment, it is more important now than ever that Queenslanders feel supported and engaged.

Scholarships provided by HASS provide regional, rural and remote students like Alessandra Schultz and Jasper Johnson the opportunity to study at UQ without facing the additional stress that moving can cause many young people.

Alessandra Schultz

Market Day 2021 CAHS Vice-President Isabella Zust-Sullivan (left) & Society President Alessandra Schultz (right).
2022 Kate McNaughton of Roma Scholarship recipient (Bachelor of Arts ’21, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) ‘22)

For Alessandra Schultz, coming to UQ to student Ancient History was an obvious choice.

“I considered Melbourne,” she says “but when you have a top university offering Ancient History and Classical languages, why wouldn’t I?”

Currently, UQ is the only university in Queensland that offers students Ancient History, as well as being one of the few Australian universities still offering classical languages such as Ancient Greek and Latin. At UQ, Ancient History falls under the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, or HAPI (read: happy), as it’s colloquially known.

“It’s a small department but everyone is really well supported,” Schultz explains. “Every one of our lecturers is interested in the students and I think that makes a big difference.”

Alessandra was originally inspired to study Ancient History after visiting UQ’s RD Milns Antiquities Museum during a school trip in year 11. Since then, Schultz has been heavily involved with the museum working as a volunteer, intern, research technician, and curatorial assistant. As part of her role, Schultz regularly works with school groups and students, who come to the museum to learn about the ancient world.

“They’re not just looking at a picture on a screen… it’s tangible,” Schultz said.

“Coming from somewhere where I would never have been able to study any kind of Humanities, it’s really nice.”

Schultz grew up in rural Queensland, a couple hours outside of Goondiwindi on the Queensland-New South Wales border. And, like many students from the country, moving to Brisbane to pursue academia hasn’t always been easy for Schultz.

“There’s a real lack of recognition that people have to leave their homes to come to University and it’s not all smooth sailing,” she said.

Schultz worked for two years to pocket some savings before she began her studies, but still chose to study part time after she realised it wasn’t going to be enough. Which is why she was surprised and relieved to learn that she was one of this years’ recipients of the Kate McNaughton of Roma Scholarship for her achievement in her Bachelor degree.

The scholarship which is awarded to two students annually based on academic merit is chosen by faculty nomination, rather than student application, hence Schultz’s surprise.

“When I first started uni, back in 2017 there weren’t very many scholarships available, particularly in the humanities, so I never really applied back then. There’s a lot more now which is amazing.”

Today, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences offers 64 scholarships across 7 different schools.

Jasper Johnson

Jasper Johnson
Jasper Johnson.
2022 Warren Brixton Bannister Bursary recipient (Bachelor of Arts)

Jasper Johnson doesn’t consider himself a typical UQ student. Only a few years older than most of peers, he worried he wouldn’t fit in with the recent-school leavers from Brisbane. Jasper grew up in Redcliffe, a 1 hour and 30 min commute by public transport from UQ’s St Lucia campus. Before coming to UQ, Jasper began studying at Griffith University and the Queensland University of Technology, but did finish his degree at either university, leaving him financially vulnerable.

“Because I’ve done those degrees, I don’t qualify for Centrelink anymore. You can only do three years of a full time without advancing,” Jasper said.

Everything came to a head when Jasper lost his job in bush regeneration due to company cuts.

“Within two weeks I went from earning $900 a week, to $0,” he said. 

When he went to the government, they told him he could either drop out or go part-time, neither of which he wanted to do after finally finding a degree he was passionate about. Jasper began the Bachelor of Social Science at UQ in 2022 and is majoring in development and social policy. He says that he “stumbled his way” into the program after not meeting the pre-requisites for his first choice. But, after months of unemployment and terrible work, Jasper was ready to give up, admitting that “the thing that would have gone away would have been my study.”

It was a group email from a tutor that eventually saved the day.

“It’s a small amount that helps a lot,” he says, referring to the Warren Brixton Bannister Bursary he received this year.

“Living costs are pretty high, I work 3 days a week and do uni on the side” he says. But, like many students, Johnson can’t work as much during exam period, leaving him in bad situation at a stressful time.

It’s at times like this that Johnson’s scholarship really helps: “[my payment] happened to coincide with a bunch of bills that I had and I could pay them.”

Although Jasper is relieved about his situation, he remains frustrated by the government’s “discouraging system,” which makes university support through scholarships even more necessary.

And, while He might not consider himself a 'typical student,' the reality is that there are hundreds of students like him: students who don’t come to university right away, or take a few goes to find the degree that suits them. In situations like these, the government won’t help students who face the financial barriers presented by relocating for tertiary education so community support through Scholarships is key.


Bachelors of Advanced Humanities/Diploma in Languages (Philosophy, Mathematics, Indonesian)