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Breaking down barriers to university: Jude Fox Bursary Fund

Profile of Bronte Chaperon
Written by Bronte ChaperonPosted on 18/7/2022

To commemorate his late wife’s lifelong commitment to education, Michael Fox opened the Jude Fox Bursary Fund with Australian Communities Foundation.

When school principal Jude Fox passed away in 2018, family, friends, teachers, and students alike attended her memorial service. Outside her funeral, countless cars lined the street; a testament to the impact Jude had on her community.

The founding principal of Flagstone State Community College in Queensland and leader for more than 16 years, Jude was known for her passion for helping students build bright, prosperous futures.

Former business lecturer at Griffith University and Jude’s husband of 42 years, Michael Fox, says Jude was “very generous” and dedicated to providing quality education for all her students. 

“She’d probably think I’m crazy,” says Michael. “But I think she’d be proud of what I’ve set up.”

“Jude was the making of me. She was the reason I ended up going to university. She helped me and stuck with me through some tough times. 

“Jude believed in the strength and potential of Flagstone students, too… and the bursary fund is to build on the work she’s done with the school, students, and community,” says Michael.

The Jude Fox Bursary Fund grants $3,000 scholarships to Flagstone State Community College students facing barriers to attending university. Whether it’s due to the cost of travelling to campus, lack of support, or financial constraints. 

What’s more, Michael notes, first-generation students may feel overwhelmed by the idea of navigating the higher education system autonomously, and he wants to help them feel confident.

“First-in-family university students don’t always have a support network, and the transition from high school to university is pretty big. I want to empower the students to say ‘look, I want to give this a go. The school believes in me to the extent that they’ve given me this money.

Jude believed in the strength and potential of Flagstone students… the bursary fund is to build on the work she’s done

Successful participants are awarded $2,000 for enrolling at a Queensland-based university and gifted a further $1,000 upon completion of their first year.

Students can spend funds on anything that will help them tackle challenges to partake in university studies, including semester fees, textbooks, equipment, a laptop, or travel costs.

“The idea is to basically say to the student and their family, ‘we believe in you and we’d like you to have the opportunity to see if you like university’.

“A few months into her first semester, one winner decided she didn’t want to continue. She said, ‘well, should I pay the money back?’ But that’s not the deal, the deal is to give them the opportunity to try.”

Image: Past winners of the Jude Fox Bursary Award.

Past scholarship awardees have included a student who worked at a dance studio, another who worked with disabled kids, and a student with a leadership position at the school. And while good grades help, Michael stresses students don’t need outstanding academic results to receive a bursary, saying: “It’s really about attitude.”

Looking forward, Michael plans to continue working with the Australian Communities Foundation grants team to distribute multiple scholarships each year and may expand the program to include a neighbouring high school. 

“If a person is doing everything right, let’s give them a go. We’ve designed the financial model to increase in line with inflation. So, I think every five years or so we’ll reset the fund. We currently offer two bursaries a year, and then perhaps down the track we’ll increase to four.”

I want to empower the students to say ‘look, I want to give this a go. The school believes in me’.

For the time being, Michael is content to continue working with Jude’s Flagstone College students, while also honouring her memory in other ways.

“I’m going to plant roses in our garden for her,” he says. “Camp David – her favourite.”

You can make a donation to the Jude Fox Bursary Fund here. Donations to scholarship funds are non-tax-deductible.