About the Program

Nine years ago there had never been an Indigenous Australian studying at Oxford or Cambridge. Today, 44 Indigenous postgraduates have been accepted to these two universities and so far, 27 out of 27 have graduated. These high-achieving Scholars are the role models for the next generation.

The Scholarship Program, Executive Education Bursaries and Study Tour have opened pathways to international academic excellence for Indigenous students.

The Programs complement each other – the Aurora Study Tour to universities in the UK and the US, strengthens aspirations and demonstrates what is possible, and the Charlie Perkins and Roberta Sykes Scholarships and Roberta Sykes Bursaries (all administered by Aurora) make overseas study a reality.

The Stories

Jessica Buck, 2014 Charlie Perkins Scholar completed a MSc in Neuroscience in 2015 and has just completed a DPhil in Oncology at Green Templeton College, Oxford. In 2019, she was named Young Australian Achiever of the Year in the UK in the Australia Day Honours. In her acceptance speech, she said
“Our mob are doing great things in mathematics, in medicine, in the arts, and in the sciences. We are setting a path for the next generation of young Australians to follow.”

Chloe Ford, 2017 Study Tour participant
“Every step we take makes the staircase a little easier to climb for the next person. We are climbing the steps that have been laid by the people that came before us, and it is up to us to lay the next steps for the people that will come after us.”

Erin Richardson, 2017 Study Tour participant
“Meeting current graduate students fosters a sense of belonging and community spirit, subsequently invoking this idea that we can do this – we can be Ivy League alumni if we wish, and more importantly, we can be Indigenous Ivy League alumni.”

The Impact

The Scholars are trailblazing new pathways for Indigenous students – we now have the first Indigenous Australian to:

  • Graduate with a Master’s degree from Cambridge and from Oxford.
  • Graduate with a DPhil from Oxford and a PhD from Cambridge.
  • Receive a DPhil scholarship where only Oxford graduates could apply.
  • Be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.

The Statistics

136
Indigenous Australians have participated in the Study Tour. Of these, 58 have applied for overseas study at the universities visited and 53 have been accepted – a 91% success rate.
3%
of Australian postgraduate students at Cambridge, Harvard and Oxford are Indigenous. This is in line with the percentage of the Australian population that is Indigenous (reaching population parity).
7
Indigenous graduates involved with Aurora have applied for Rhodes Scholarships. All 7 were shortlisted, 4 went on to win Rhodes Scholarships (including 3 in the last 3 years).

Our Approach

Together, the International Scholarships provide a spectrum of opportunities for students to explore, apply to and succeed in leading international universities as shown below:

The Study Tour runs over 5 weeks and includes visits to UC Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard, New York University and Stanford in the US, and Cambridge, London School of Economics and Oxford in the UK.  Successful applicants for the Study Tour need to have attained a Distinction average or better, or have, or are heading for, First Class Honours or upper Second Class Honours. Unlike at Australian universities, there are no alternative entry programs for Indigenous Australians at universities such as Cambridge or Oxford.

Study Tour participants become part of a strong network of Indigenous peers, all with a record of outstanding academic success. Many participants have returned from the Study Tour resolved to pursue study overseas, either immediately or in the future. Others have decided to pursue study or employment in Australia. In either case, the Study Tour has helped participants to make better informed decisions about their pathways. The Scholars are also inspiring the next generation, enthusiastically contributing to Aurora Outreach.

For more information about eligibility criteria and application dates for the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour, go to the listing on the Indigenous Scholarships Portal
You can also view a copy of the Study Tour flyer here

Those who secure entry into prestigious international postgraduate and executive programs can apply for scholarships and bursaries through the Charlie Perkins Scholarship Trust and the Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation, which are delivered by Aurora.

Our International Pathways work to empower Indigenous Australians with the qualifications to enter professional careers, and to create a new pool of Indigenous academics and leaders who will step up to influence policy and drive change.