Ancient organisations providing modern help for students

The cost of going to university can be massive and for some potential students it can be the biggest deciding factor. 

The New Zealand Union of Student Associations believes that an average student in 2017 will pay $7,385.64 for tuition fees, so a 3-year degree will cost over $23,500 (Income and Expenditure Report, 2017). You also have to live somewhere, eat, dress, get around and if possible, have some fun.  

Scholarships can be hugely helpful, and as a couple of recent announcements show, some of these can come from some reasonably obscure places.  Like the Worshipful Company of Girdlers. Or the Grand Lodge of New Zealand Freemasons. 

The worshipful what? Grand who? 

In fact at the start of May, valuable scholarships in the name of both these strange sounding organisations (that together date back hundreds of years) were awarded to a number of Kiwi students. 

Hamish Thomas, a 17-year-old who attended Christ’s College in Christchurch, was awarded the prestigious Girdlers’ Scholarship that will allow him to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. This scholarship, worth around $57,000 each year,  

is funded by the Worshipful Company of Girdlers, an organisation that traces its history back to a craftsmen’s guild making belts and girdles in medieval times.  

With most fashion accessories now being made in Asia, the girdlers are out of business but their charitable support rolls on. Each year, one Kiwi student wins this valuable scholarship to study in England. Read more about the Girdlers’ Scholarship 

Freemasons also trace their origins back to the middle ages, and today there are around 4 million freemasons around the world, all men, who still meet and worship largely behind closed doors. Charity has long been a significant part of freemasonry, with education and research some of the main recipients of their support. 

In May the Freemasons announced that 20 undergraduate students from AUT, Auckland, Waikato, Massey, Victoria, Canterbury, Lincoln and Otago universities would receive a total of $120,000 in Freemason Scholarships. This is the 39th year these scholarships have been awarded. In addition, the Freemasons administer a large number of other scholarships, usually from past members, designed to reduce the burden of study costs. Read about previous Freemasons Scholarship winners 

These scholarships are open to anyone and you don’t have to have a father or grandfather who was a freemason (or a well distant relation who made girdles) to put your hand up for these. There are literally hundreds of other scholarships available that are in a similar category – out there for the most suitable candidates or those who need it most, not how you are related. 

Make scholarship hunting one of your tasks this year. Get help from your careers adviser, get online to GivME (free at school or libraries), check with your church, investigate with your iwi and apply for as many scholarships as you are eligible for.  



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