University of Sydney defends new scholarship that favours men

Some were 'horrified' when they found out about the financial support opportunity for male students 

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The Independent Online

The University of Sydney has defended a new scholarship that favours men as “consistent with diversity”. 

The university’s new $27,000 vet science scholarship, which was announced last week, has come under fire after students condemned it as sexist. 

A summary of the scholarship says preference will be given to applicants who are from rural or regional areas; male; interested in large animal practice; intend to work in rural veterinary science and are Australian citizens. 

The postgraduate scholarship was set-up in the name of Professor Marsh Edwards AO Scholarship, who himself received a scholarship to complete his veterinary degree. 

But the women’s officer on the Students’ Representative Council at the university, Imogen Grant, has said students are “horrified” at the announcement of the scholarship.  

In the past 20 years, veterinary reverted from being a male to a female-dominated profession but students have said this did not justify the criteria for the scholarship. 

In a statement, the university said 90 per cent of this year’s intake for the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine course were expected to be female. 

One student told the Sydney Morning Herald she first thought the scholarship advertisement was “a mistake”. 

"Female graduates of vet school are still paid less, from day one. Professor Edwards was a lovely man who did a lot of fabulous work. This is not about hurting his reputation.

“The barriers that prevent men from entering vet science are not the same barriers that prevent women from entering every single other academic area. To have male-only scholarships is to continue male privilege within society," she said. 

But a spokeswoman from the university said the scholarship complied with discrimination laws and that women were still eligible to apply and academic excellence would be “prioritised”. 

"The inclusion of males as one of a number of preferences by the donor is to address the current under-representation of males in the student cohort. 

"As such, it is consistent with the university's support of actions to address diversity and the under-representation of males or females in certain disciplines or professions,” she said. 

The scholarship is being set-up by Professor Marsh Edwards’ wife in memory of her late husband and his contribution to vet science. 

“Marsh was a hard working country vet in Western Australia who travelled extensively working as a large-animal vet helping farmers keep their stock healthy and productive. As food security becomes a bigger priority around the world, the family would like to see this gift help students who might also want to do this vital, specialist work," it says.