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Crowdfund your way into studying

Crowdfund your way into studying

Lauren Ahwan

ONLINE crowdfunding could soon be used to help Australians pay for their training and education, following a successful campaign to raise $30,000 for a University of NSW law scholarship.
More than 200 people pledged $33,280 to the Open Doors project to help a disadvantaged student from a non-selective public school in south west Sydney to study law.

Lawyer and former UNSW law society president Angela Kintominas - who initiated the crowdfunding campaign with fellow law graduate Leslie Phung – believes Australians who may not be able to fund their own education could use crowdfunding to ask the public for donations.

"People have crowdfunded their degree in America so it could happen here," Kintominas says.
"In general universities and other institutions will start moving into the crowdfunding space - their fundraising will start to move towards crowdfunding (rather than traditional fundraising events)."
Ross Dullard is the chairman of website ProjectEd which uses online crowdfunding to raise money for educational resources and programs.

He says crowdfunding is still in its infancy in Australia but is slowly gaining popularity. "Crowdfunding is still a new thing and people are still a bit wary of it," he says.

"We (ProjectEd) haven't gone down that avenue (of helping to raise funds for individuals wanting to further their education) yet but as long as it benefits education, there's no reason it couldn't work."
Dullard says accountability is the biggest hurdle for crowdfunding.

At ProjectEd staff use pledges received for successful projects to pay for the resources or services required and then send those resources directly to the project owner, ensuring funds cannot be misused.

"To crowdfund (an individual's education) what you are really doing is investing in them so you kind of want to see something happen," Dullard says.

"You don't want to give money to someone who isn't passing (their studies) or who is going to jump on a plane and go overseas.

"You want to see that they're actually learning something. What happens when someone isn't successful?

"It's a difficult question. You've got to pick the right people (to pledge to) that are trustworthy.

"None of this (crowdfunding for an individual's education) has ever really happened in Australia before - but I think it could definitely happen."

Elizabeth Galleghan recently completed a Diploma in Beauty Therapy through the Australian National College of Beauty and is now working as a beauty therapist at Nature's Energy in Balmain, in Sydney's Inner West.

The college awarded Galleghan, 27, a scholarship which covered half her tuition fees. Without the scholarship, Galleghan says it would have been a struggle to pay for her training but she doubts she would have used crowdfunding to ease the financial burden.

"I don't know if I would feel comfortable asking strangers to support me," she says.
"But I guess if someone is passionate enough about something and they have (study) goals in mind and they're willing to put in the work and prove to these (donors) that they would be a good investment, then I can see how it could be an option.
"But personally I don't think I would do it."