Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Scholarship offer to Aboriginals

Oxford University
Funding has now been secured to offer places to Aboriginal Australians

Oxford University is hoping to welcome its first Aboriginal Australian students next year, it has been announced.

From next month, applications for two scholarship places are being accepted.

The university said although it had a significant number of students from Australia, an indigenous Australian had never studied there.

The scholarships will pay for tuition fees, air fares and living expenses over a three-year period.

The scheme has been set up by the Charlie Perkins Trust for Children and Students and is funded by the British and Australian governments and mining firm Rio Tinto.

'Unattainable dream'

Sue Cunningham, director of development at Oxford University, said: "We are delighted that a year after we announced the Perkins' scholarships, we now have the funding to officially launch them."

The trust was named after Charlie Perkins, an Aboriginal footballer who was offered a contract with Manchester United.

He decided to go to university instead after playing a game against Oxford University.

His daughter Hetti Perkins, chairwoman of the trust, said she was "thrilled" to announce the scholarships.

She said: "When my father was a young man, university was only a dream for most Aboriginal people.

"And, until now, studying at the University of Oxford was an unattainable dream."

Australian universities are being visited by the trust to encourage people to apply for the postgraduate scholarships which will start in 2010.



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