From tackling student poverty, to giving students the opportunity to pursue career paths they’d never dreamed of, QUT’s award-winning Learning Potential Fund has been making a tangible difference to student’s lives for 20 years.
Since 1998, the ground-breaking equity scholarship scheme has awarded scholarships and bursaries to support more than 15,000 students.
QUT’s Equity Director, Mary Kelly, has been there from the very beginning and played an integral role in its inception.
At the time, the recruitment and retention of low-income students was a core issue for the university.
“In discussions with the (then) Vice-Chancellor, it was clear that student poverty was the barrier, especially for retention – students would drop out because of financial hardship.”
In its first year, six students received a bursary of $500 each. Last year, 2,100 Learning Potential Fund scholarships were awarded, totaling over $5 million.
Now, trends show that the retention rate of Learning Potential Fund students is 88 per cent higher than their peers.
“The majority [of students] say that their scholarship made the difference between staying at university or leaving,” Mary said.
“The scholarships have two effects; firstly, it’s practical. It means students can afford education costs and living costs. It makes life less complicated.”
“Secondly, they have a psychological effect; students say they feel special and are grateful that they’ve been chosen. It enhances their sense of belonging and motivates them.”
“It really does have a ripple effect on a family and on society.”
Vice- Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Sheil, has placed a high importance on seeing the Learning Potential Fund reach its goal of $100 million. In helping to achieve this goal, every donation to the Learning Potential Fund is matched dollar-for-dollar by the university.
“I’m extremely proud of QUT’s strong culture of philanthropy, and I’m invested in seeing this success continue,” she said.
“The fund is the driving force behind the largest staff-giving program in the university sector."
“It is the only fund of its scale in Australia that is perpetual, and among the largest in terms of the dollar value of needs-based scholarships awarded each year.”
Recently, QUT marked 20 years of the Learning Potential Fund at a Gala dinner, where donors, scholarship recipients, and other members of the LPF community came together to celebrate.
You can make a gift to the Learning Potential Fund here.
Learning Potential Fund scholarship recipient Erica Marschall with Hon Kate Jones MP and Vice-Chancellor Margaret Sheil at the LPF Gala Dinner