Show download pdf controls
  • Requirements of an eligible scholarship, bursary or prize

    Scholarships and bursaries are ongoing or one-off benefit payments to students to cover school fees, textbooks and other related educational expenses such as uniforms, travel, boarding or living costs.

    A prize, in the context of a scholarship fund, is an award of money or property to students usually conferred for reasons of merit (such as academic achievement) but may be conferred for reasons of equity.

    On this page:

    Australian citizens and permanent residents

    To be eligible, the scholarship, bursary or prize must be awarded only to Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia.

    Must be open to at least 200,000 people

    To be eligible, entry to the scholarship, bursary or prize must be open to individuals or groups of individuals in a region of at least 200,000 people.

    While a scholarship, bursary or prize will normally be open to individuals, some may be open to groups of individuals - for example prizes for a championship school choir or debating team.

    Matters that can be consistent with this requirement, even though they may have the effect of reducing the number of people who could qualify, include:

    • the scholarship or bursary is for study at a particular school
    • the scholarship or bursary is for study within a particular discipline
    • there are merit or equity criteria.

    However, an eligible scholarship, bursary or prize could not have any of the following limits on eligibility:

    • open only to students at a particular school - even if the school's students come from throughout a state, a territory or a region of 200,000 people
    • open only to employees of a particular employer
    • open only to members of a particular society or association.

    Promoting the recipient's education

    To be eligible, the scholarship, bursary or prize must promote the recipient's education.

    Approved Australian courses

    Approved Australian courses are pre-school courses, primary courses, secondary courses and tertiary courses. They cover the approved curriculum and courses at Australian educational institutions that are approved or recognised by Australian educational authorities.

    Examples of activities and awards where there would not be an approved Australian course include:

    • courses run by professional associations that are not registered training organisations
    • activities run by a school or college that are not directly related to an approved Australian course
    • community service awards.

    See also:

    Overseas study

    An eligible scholarship, bursary or prize can promote the recipient's education in educational institutions overseas, provided it is by way of study or a component of an approved Australian course.

    While an exchange relationship between the Australian and overseas institutions is not essential, the approved Australian course must give credit for the overseas study.

    For education in educational institutions overseas, an eligible scholarship, bursary or prize must promote the recipient's education by way of study of a component of an approved Australian course.

    Merit or equity

    To be eligible, the scholarship, bursary or prize must be awarded on merit or for reasons of equity.

    The basis of merit can include non-academic criteria, where they are sufficiently connected with the educational objectives.

    Examples where a non-academic criterion could be consistent with the academic criteria include:

    • community service (for a secondary school scholarship)
    • football skills (for a scholarship at a school where football is part of the curriculum)
    • ability to perform in the career which will result from the particular course (for a tertiary course bursary).

    Reasons of equity would cover students who are experiencing socio-economic disadvantage or hardship, or suffering disability. Other reasons may include special needs flowing from:

    • age
    • gender
    • ethnicity or geographic location, depending on the particular education being promoted.

    A scholarship, bursary or prize will not be eligible where the awarding is not truly on the basis or merit or equity. For example, the following eligibility criteria do not target on the basis of merit:

    • current enrolment at a particular school or college
    • membership of a club or association, including a professional association
    • employment by a particular employer
    • promising to become an employee of a particular employer
    • membership of a religion
    • race or ethnicity.

    If the basis of merit or equity is unrelated to the education, the scholarship, bursary or prize is not eligible.

    A requirement for a recipient to repay the scholarship, bursary or prize should be consistent with the education, merit or equity. For example, a bursary would not be eligible if repayment was required at the end of the course because the recipient did not take up employment with a particular employer.

      Last modified: 12 Oct 2016QC 26415