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Page last updated at 13:42 GMT, Friday, 22 October 2010 14:42 UK
Oxford University's new bursary for Aboriginal scholars
Christian Thompson and Paul Gray
Christian Thompson and Paul Gray are the first Aboriginal students at Oxford

The first indigenous Australians to attend Oxford University are starting their studies this term.

Christian Thompson and Paul Gray are both doing doctorates thanks to the inaugural Charlie Perkins scholarship.

Charlie Perkins was the first indigenous Australian to graduate from university.

Mr Gray said: "Prior to this opportunity being announced it wasn't something that I thought was possible for me."

He said that in Australia the statistics suggest that a smaller percentage of indigenous Australians went to university and a place at Oxford seemed so distance it was unachievable.

The opportunity of a scholarship changed his expectations.

"It encouraged me to take the risk to apply; I don't think I'd have applied if the scholarship wasn't there."

He is now studying for a DPhil in Experimental Psychology.

'Marginalised communities'

Christian Thompson is already an acclaimed artist and holds a Masters of Fine Art.

He is taking a DPhil in Fine Art using exhibits at the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford as inspiration.

Mr Thompson said: "The scholarship has provided the opportunity to work very intimately with this collection and regain the knowledge that has been almost lost."

His work has already attracted the interest of actress Cate Blanchett, who recently purchased three of his photographs.

Elleke Boehmer, a member of the Charlie Perkins Trust's Board, said: "It is incredibly moving and significant that these talented postgraduate students from one of the world's most deprived and marginalised communities now have the opportunity, through Charlie Perkins, to study at one of the modern world's oldest centres of learning.

"The scales of historical injustice are being rebalanced."




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