Perspective on John Monash Scholars

With 64 Scholarships now awarded over the last eight years, the Monash Foundation now has a good view on the topics pursued by its John Monash Scholars. The Scholars have been grouped into eight broad fields.
The outcomes reflect the alignment of the Scholarships with topics of importance to the nation:

  • Nearly one third of Scholars are directed towards health issues, split nearly evenly between medical research and public health. Within this field, interests are diverse, ranging from cancer through neuroscience to imaging technologies and allergies.
  • Sustainability and engineering is a key topic, with nine Scholars undertaking postgraduate research in this field. Four of these work in the field of water management and policy. There are also six undertaking science doctorates, including several outstanding physicists.
  • Ten of the Scholars addressed topics in human rights and equity, both in Australia and internationally. A number of these are already working with NGOs.
  • The humanities are an important component of the Scholar portfolio, with six Scholars studying arts and philosophy, and others in the fields of sociology and constitutional law (structuring the nation).

Of the 64, 70% undertook PhD programmes, with the balance taking Masters degrees or the Bachelor of Common Law. With the average length of PhDs now increasing, in particular at US and UK institutions, the proportion of Scholars undertaking PhDs is reducing. The Foundation does not favour applicants for Masters over those for PhDs; for several fields, Masters degrees are better aligned with a Scholar’s anticipated career path than a research-oriented doctorate. Of the 55 Scholars who have left Australia, 19 of the Scholars are in North America and are widely dispersed; 18 are in Europe, with Oxford and Cambridge having strong populations.

The Foundation keeps in touch with John Monash Scholars after completion of their studies, and the data reveals a strong inclination for the Scholars to return to Australia. Of the 31 Scholars who have completed their qualifications to early 2011, 16 have already returned to positions within Australia. Another half a dozen are likely to return by the end of the year.