At Wesley College, Sydney University, there are 25 scholarships specifically designed to help rural students with their residential costs.

Story Ken Eastwood

In 2017, it was a particularly dry year out at Bogan Gate in central NSW. Charles Umbers was finishing high school and helping out on the family’s fat lamb and cropping farm, and trying to work out what to do the year after. “We got very minimal crop that year,” he says.

Charles wanted to study economics with an agriculture major, and says there are limited places to do that, so Sydney University was looking like the best option. His older brother had resided at Wesley College when studying at Sydney University, which had given Charles an opportunity to check it out. “When I travelled there to go to events, I quite liked the feel of the place,” he says. “There was a good diversity of people and lots of country kids. Wesley has always been quite a welcoming place for country kids and the college has always had a pretty consistent level of rural students.”

But with very little savings in the bank and accommodation costing around $28,000 a year, Charles wasn’t in a good position to go to Wesley, until he applied for – and received – a David Greatorex scholarship, which subsidises his college fees to the tune of $10,000 a year. “The prospect of paying $28K a year at that point was pretty daunting, so it’s been a massive help,” he says. “The fees in that situation would have been too high a barrier for me.”

Wesley College has 267 residents enrolled this year, of which 44 are receiving a scholarship. All scholarships favour students from rural, regional and remote areas, and 25 scholarships specifically target such students. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #131

Outback Magazine: June/July 2020