Oxford welcomes first ever Aboriginal students

first_imgOxford is to welcome two Aboriginal students for the first time this October.The students are the first recipients of the Charlie Perkins Scholarship, an award which exists solely to allow those of Aboriginal descent to study at Oxford.Christian Thompson, 32, and Paul Gray, 26, were announced as the inaugural recipients of the prestigious postgraduate scholarships. They will be the first two Aboriginal students to be matriculated at Oxford University.OUSU Access and Academic Affairs Officer, Jonny Medland, praised the news, stating, “Access to postgraduate study is incredibly uneven with many talented students not being able to come to Oxford because of a lack of funding.“It’s great to see the most gifted students being able to come here as a result of scholarships and the university should continue striving to improve funding for graduate students.”However, the scholarship has received criticism, as some see it as “discriminatory”.One student said, “Why would Oxford associate itself with such a discriminatory scholarship [one that is for Indigenous Australians only]. Would it do so in the case of a scholarship only available to non-indigenous Australians? Discrimination is discrimination.”Medland disagrees. He commented, “It’s mistaken to argue that these sort of scholarships are discriminatory – any funding which helps the best students from underrepresented groups come to Oxford should be welcomed”Charlie Perkins was the first indigenous Australian to graduate from University, with a BA from Sydney in 1966. He was a prominent Aboriginal activist and footballer. Perkins turned down an offer to play for Manchester United in order to return to Australia to continue with his education.Perkins died in 2001, and the Charlie Perkins Scholarship was created in his honour. It is now available for two postgraduate students to study at Oxford each year.Mr Thompson, one of the recipients of the Charlie Perkins Scholarship, is currently the Amsterdam School of Fine Arts in the Netherlands. From October, he will be studying Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Art. He described this as a “life-changing opportunity.”“To be one of the first two Aboriginals to ever go to Oxford is pretty wild,” he told The Times. “It’s going to be exciting to be in an environment which is all about the pursuit of knowledge.”Mr Gray, the other recipient of the scholarship, will be researching neurobiological processes in children as a result of traumatic events in early life, as part of postgraduate degree in experimental psychology at Oxford.The scholarship is jointly funded by the British and Australian governments.last_img read more