Ramsay Centre bucks trend on uni spending

Aug 10, 2020 | News & Media, Read

Article published in the Australian Financial Review. To see full article on the AFR website click here

As universities slash staff and cut courses in the face of COVID-19, and the government increases the cost of arts degrees by more than 110 per cent, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation is launching $3 million worth of post-graduate scholarships.

The scholarships come on top of the $150 million the centre invested in new undergraduate arts degrees at Wollongong University, the University of Queensland and the Australian Catholic University.

Chief executive Simon Haines said the Ramsay Centre was providing the only significant new money for domestic bachelor degrees in the humanities and was expanding with new support to postgraduate students who want to study overseas.

It is financed by the $3 billion Ramsay Foundation, a philanthropic organisation set up by the late health sector businessman Paul Ramsay.

Dr Haines said the scholarship selection panel of nine members would be made up of academics and community representatives but only four members of the Ramsay board.

The centre was caught up in controversy over its undergraduate program when some universities turned down the course, saying the centre wanted to exercise too much control over the selection of academics and it risked being an advocate for Western civilisation rather than an observer of it.

Dr Haines said the aim of undergraduate and postgraduate programs was to give students an understanding of Western history, philosophy and literature.

The centre had “moved way past” its early critics and the three universities signed up to the undergraduate degrees had welcomed the chance to hire up to 30 new academics to do the teaching.

“Thirty new positions in the humanities at a time like this is quite something,” he said.

“At a time when young people are seeing their prospects and possibilities narrow, we hope the Ramsay Centre will become a major new source of hope and vision for them.

“Philanthropy needs to step up, think big and be forward-looking at a time like this, and nowhere more than in widening the intellectual horizons and improving the career prospects of a generation significantly affected by the pandemic.”

The postgraduate program includes up to 15 scholarships worth $85,000 a year for up to three years for students accepted for study overseas.

“These could be courses in law, econometrics or literature. They’re open to lawyers, economists, historians or, if they make a good case, engineers,” Dr Haines said.

Separately there are up to six scholarships of $60,000 a year, for two years, to study a master’s degree in liberal arts at St John’s College, Annapolis, in the United States.

The president of St John’s Annapolis told The Australian Financial Review the university’s MA teaches the “ideas that underpin the modern world”.

“It is intended to be a liberal, free, open-inquiry, rational critique of received opinions.”

For more information on Ramsay Postgraduate Scholarships click here