Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek with University of Sydney vice chancellor Michael Spence.

Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek with University of Sydney vice chancellor Michael Spence.

The University of Sydney has awarded the first three scholarships under a program designed to assist students from Indigenous and refugee backgrounds, following a $125,000 donation from the Western Union Foundation in December 2017.

A total of six students will receive $7,000 per year for three years under the Western Union Foundation Scholarship program, with two of the scholarships going to high-school leavers and the third to a mature-aged student. The three remaining scholarships are to be presented in 2019.

The scholarships are awarded based on merit and financial need to students studying science, engineering, information technology or business, with a preference given to students from Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or refugee backgrounds.

Students are also required to demonstrate their interest in using their education and skills to make a positive impact on society as part of the application process.

In a statement, Western Union president and chief executive officer Hikmet Ersek said the scholarships demonstrated the company’s “commitment to improving education as a pathway towards a better future”.

“The Western Union Foundation recognises education as a universal need that has the ability to create opportunity and improve lives, having committed more than US$77 million (A$100 million) to education programs and causes around the world,” he added.

The donations form part of an ongoing partnership between the University of Sydney and the foundation, which is the charitable arm of US-based communications and financial services company Western Union.

University of Sydney vice chancellor Michael Spence said the university is “extremely grateful to have a strong partner like Western Union that provides support for students who might otherwise miss out on an education and access to employment.”

The Western Union Foundation is dedicated to creating a better world, where the ability to realise dreams through economic opportunity is not just a privilege for the few but a right for all. Through its signature program, Education for Better, and with the support of The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), its employees, agents, and business partners, The Western Union Foundation works to realise this vision by supporting education and disaster relief efforts as pathways toward a better future.