Transforming lives: Monash takes inclusion agenda to the next level

Namik Perera

Monash University first year Biomedicine student Namik Perera.

Monash University has revealed how it will be taking its already successful inclusion agenda to the next level, with enhanced schemes to ensure talented students have the opportunity to study at the University, regardless of background.

Speaking ahead of the Monash Inclusion Showcase at the State Library of Victoria this evening, Monash President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, said attracting and developing talented students, irrespective of social or economic circumstances, embodies the University’s values – to provide a world-leading, inclusive education that opens students’ minds to new ways of thinking, and creates strong and diverse communities.

“Education should not be for an elite few,” Professor Gardner said.

“It is essential that talented students are given the opportunity for a fulfilling education and successful careers, regardless of background.

“I am proud of what Monash has achieved in recent years through wide-ranging schemes and initiatives which have seen a 30 per cent growth since 2010 in enrolments of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“I’m delighted that we will be developing these initiatives further, including expanding our Monash Guarantee scheme to include students living in low socio-economic areas and introducing an Indigenous entry scheme, ensuring more students are given access to the Monash student experience.”

Vice-Provost (Education Programs), Professor Sue Willis, who is retiring from Monash this year, has been a major contributor to the inclusive education strategy. She said Monash is committed to opening up education opportunities to students from a diverse range of backgrounds.

“Monash’s ambition is by 2020 to be known as the Australian university that makes the greatest contribution to social mobility. We are committed to achieving this through recognising talent, providing supports to allow talent to flourish, and by extending talent,” Professor Willis said.

First year Biomedicine student Namik Perera is one such student who has been able to chase his dream of becoming a psychiatrist thanks to an equity scholarship, receiving the inaugural John Gandel Scholarship.

Speaking at tonight’s Showcase, Namik and his family fled civil war in his homeland of Sri Lanka in 2011, facing the daunting task of beginning a new life in Melbourne.

Determined to realise his dream, the 19-year-old said the support he had received from Monash had been life-changing.

“To get this level of support from Monash has been amazing. I don’t think I can underestimate the impact this has on my life and my family’s,” Namik said.

“This means my parents don’t have to worry about me being able to afford textbooks and equipment for practical classes. They know that it allows me to focus on my studies and work towards my goal of becoming a psychiatrist.

“This scholarship and support makes your dreams possible.”

The University’s inclusion agenda has driven growth in students from low socio-economic areas, who have experienced financial disadvantage and attend under-represented schools – largely down to the success of programs such as the Monash Guarantee scheme.

The inclusion agenda has also increased the enrolments of indigenous Australians.

This is one of many programs and initiatives across the University providing financial support, mentoring and growth opportunities to students.