Shaping Futures Scholarship Fund Appeal

The gift of education

At the University of Newcastle (UON) we believe in giving all students the chance to achieve their dreams regardless of their background or experiences.

Donations to the Shaping Futures Endowment Fund provide much needed scholarships for academically dedicated students who are facing hardship or challenges - those students who need it the most.

Donations to the Shaping Futures Endowment Fund provide scholarships for those students who are most in need.

These are students who have health problems and disabilities or are facing severe financial hardship - students with carer responsibilities or family problems, or a combination of any of these issues.  

The financial assistance from the scholarship can help with expenses such as tuition fees, text books, travel, computer equipment, medical expenses, food and accommodation.

That's why we established the Shaping Futures Endowment Scholarship Fund to help inspirational students who are determined to follow their dreams against all odds.

Your donation will help to support these students and relieve the more extreme economic pressures they face daily. Through this financial assistance, scholarship recipients will be able to focus more on their studies and academic achievement.

Giving to a scholarship is so much more than financial support – it unlocks potential, gives encouragement and can profoundly impact a student's life. Being awarded a scholarship is also a validation of a student's ability. The recipient gains a sense of recognition that encourages not only a greater sense of self-confidence, but a genuine determination to strive for excellence in their academic study.

The experience of receiving a scholarship for a disadvantaged student can, quite literally, be transformational.

Eligible donations to the University of Newcastle of $2 or more are tax deductible in Australia.

Why do we need more scholarships for disadvantaged and gifted students?

Full-time students can pay on average $16,000 per year for tuition fees. This does not include textbooks, photocopying, computer equipment, stationary, lab manuals, study materials, travel or living away from home expenses. Living on campus can cost up to $15,000 a year and renting a house can cost even more.

Around 48 per cent of the Hunter's population comes from low socio-economic (financially disadvantaged) backgrounds. Close to one-third of our students fall into this category, almost double the national average participation rate - that's more than 9,000 students. We are very proud of the support we provide to our disadvantaged students but we need more help.

Recent research undertaken across all universities in Australia found that two-thirds of undergraduate students live on income below the poverty line, and that 22.7 per cent of full-time students were found to regularly skip classes because they needed to attend employment.*

If we don't help these students they may drop out - this means their dreams go unfulfilled and their potential undiscovered.

(*Source: Bexley, E., S. Arkoudis, S. & James, R. (2013). University student finances in 2012: A study of the financial circumstances of domestic and international students in Australia's universities. Canberra: Universities Australia.)

The Shaping Futures Endowment Fund was established in 2011 with the aim of helping those students who are most in need.

These scholarships are funded entirely by generous donations from alumni, donors, businesses and the community.

Anyone can contribute to the fund. Any amount is gratefully received – no matter how big or small. The more money raised, the more scholarships can be awarded and the more students will be helped. 100 per cent of donations go directly to the Shaping Futures Fund.

To be eligible for a Shaping Futures Scholarship students need to be academically capable but also facing hardship from factors such as being from a low socio-economic background, coming from a rural or remote area, living with a disability, or have carer or parenting responsibilities - or a combination of these challenges.

Students must also be enrolled in any year of any undergraduate degree program. Both international and domestic students are eligible for this scholarship.

We want students to be able to shape their future and change their lives forever through obtaining an education!

Read more about the Shaping Futures Scholarship Fund (PDF 3.35MB).


John Chileshe

John is studying a Bachelor of Nursing. As an international student he has to pay his university fees up-front. He works long hours in a nursing home to support his studies. 

Growing up in a family of 10 children in Zambia, one of the world's poorest countries, posed many difficulties for John. He also missed much of his schooling due to a number of bouts of Malaria. Against the odds he's now in the final year of his degree.

"It is my dream to become a nurse and honour my deceased parents, who would have loved to see me graduate. My mother was a community nurse but never had the chance to gain an education. When I think about realising my dream to become a fully qualified nurse, tears run down by cheeks. I want to help people who need help because I myself have been helped." 


Shaping Futures Scholarship recipient Marcos Cousens-Schulz

For Marcos, who suffers from cerebral palsy, the financial support of his Shaping Futures Scholarship has made a very tangible difference to him. Marcos says his $4,000 scholarship allowed him to work hard and achieve top grades to transfer from a Bachelor of Information Technology to a Bachelor of Computer Science. 

He is in his third year and on track for honours with the aim of eventually undertaking postgraduate studies.

"The scholarship was a huge help to me and my family. As my physical disability makes it difficult to use public transport or drive myself, all of my scholarship funds were used towards transportation costs."


Lisa-Marree Salmon

Lisa-Marree was the first person in her family to attend university, but she almost didn't make it. She left school at the age of 15 and didn't even complete Year 9. After becoming pregnant at 17 Lisa thought attending university was out of her reach. 

Years later as a married mother of four children, one of whom suffers from severe autism, Lisa never thought she would someday go to university. But now she is studying to become a podiatrist.

"It's hard to juggle caring for four kids including one with a disability as well as studying. Receiving this scholarship meant I didn't have to worry so much about finances and I could concentrate on my grades. I am dedicating myself to self-improvement not just for me but for my whole family. I'm proud that my children see me as a role-model." 


Alissa Lucas

Alissa is a high achieving Bachelor of Laws (Honours) / Bachelor of Commerce student. Life hasn't dealt Alissa an easy hand. She cares for her mother who has had a kidney transplant after suffering for a long time from a hereditary kidney condition. 

Alissa works in three casual jobs to help support her family. Alissa also has to battle with her own medical condition, which means she requires frequent medical appointments. 

"I believe my hardships have made me mentally stronger and more determined to succeed. Receiving a Shaping Futures Scholarship allowed me to work less at my casual jobs, which meant I could attend all my classes and focus on my studies without having constant financial burdens and stress on my mind."  

Caroline McMillen

Equity of access is part of our DNA here at the University of Newcastle.

I am constantly inspired by the drive of our students to succeed. They are a testament to the transformative power of education. But some of our students are struggling more than others. They face more challenges than most. If we don't help these students they may drop out - this means their dreams go unfulfilled and their potential undiscovered.

We established the Shaping Futures Endowment Fund in 2011 to help these students who are determined to follow their dreams against all odds. But every year the number of applications is increasing.

It is my personal commitment to keep our doors open to people from all walks of life with ability and determination to enter and succeed in higher education, especially for those who are facing a myriad of challenges.

Growing the Shaping Futures Endowment Fund is a strategic priority for our University. We want to ensure that the fund is large enough to allow for a sustainable approach well into the future - guaranteeing support those most in need of our help.

However, I need your help. Almost 27 per cent of our students are from a low socio-economic background, significantly higher than the national average of 16 per cent. That's more than 9,000 students of our students!

Access to education can not only change the lives of students but also their families and the communities that benefit from their achievements. Giving to a scholarship is so much more than financial support - it also gives encouragement, profoundly impacting a student's life.

All of the Shaping Futures Scholarship recipients have something in common – they have taken a step towards transforming their lives through higher education. They just needed that little extra support to reach their full potential. 

If you are a past student, a current or former staff member, a donor or a supporter of the University of Newcastle I would encourage you to give to this very worthy cause. You can directly help a student achieve their goals and dreams.

On behalf of the University of Newcastle, thank you for your support.

Professor Geoffrey Evans

Professor Geoff Evans 

"When I received the information about the Shaping Futures Endowment Fund I was delighted to see that the University had taken on such an initiative. I thought this is just fantastic; this is really a meaningful thing. We are helping those students most in need. As a UON staff member I am passionate about helping students and see it as a very worthwhile cause."

Keryl Kavanagh

Keryl Kavanagh 

"I've seen first-hand the challenges that so many students face. Giving to the Shaping Futures Fund is just a small but very tangible way I could help. I've seen it over and over again - a student who receives help from a scholarship today overcomes their hurdles, goes on to achieve an education and then makes an impact on all of those around them."

Peter Brecht

Peter Brecht 

"I chose to give where I feel connected. As a graduate I gave to my university, my community. There just aren't enough scholarships for these amazing students to go around and they are crying out for help. For me it's the quiet knowledge of having done something that can change one person's life forever."


How do I make a donation?

There are a number of ways you can make a donation. The University of Newcastle can accept donations via credit card, electronic funds transfer (EFT), cheque or money order.


You can make a donation to help our talented but disadvantaged students via our secure website.

Give now


If you wish to make a donation by cheque, EFT or money order download a donation form (PDF, 242KB).


Contact the Office of Alumni and Philanthropy (formerly known as UON Foundation)

T +61 2 4921 8612



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Tax Deductibility Information

Donations to the University of Newcastle may be eligible deductions for income tax purposes under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. The donation, once made, is under the University of Newcastle's sole direction and control. Receipts will be issued according to the individual or company name as indicated and contact details may be used to update the University of Newcastle's records.