Sir James Wolfensohn Public Service Scholarship

In 2012 the Harvard Club of Australia established the Sir James Wolfensohn Public Service Scholarship to enable senior Australian public servants to undertake an executive education program at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), the world’s leading school of Government.  The Scholarship is intended to support the design and delivery of good public policy in Australia.

It is expected that a minimum of two Scholarships will be awarded each year.

The Wolfensohn Scholarship will fund attendance at an HKS executive education program, including return economy air travel to Boston.

Harvard Kennedy School executive programs range from public sector management (such as the flagship ‘Senior Managers in Government’ program which runs for three weeks), through to thematic courses around policy areas such as defence, development, financial management and education.

Details of executive education programs at the Harvard Kennedy School can be found here. 

Wolfensohn Scholarship recipients will have 12 calendar months to complete their studies from the date the Scholarship is awarded. Details of past recipients of the Wolfensohn Scholarship can be found in the links below:


Who is eligible to apply?

The Wolfensohn Scholarship is open to employees of the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments.

HCA will award the Wolfensohn Scholarship to senior public servants – specifically, individuals who are expected to play a significant role in the design and implementation of public policy in Australia, possibly as a Department or Agency head in the near term.

By funding executive education at the world’s leading school of public policy, the Wolfensohn Scholarship is intended to support the design and delivery of good public policy in Australia.

It will also reward outstanding individuals for their achievements in Government and, we hope, motivate them to re-commit to public service.

It is expected that each year at least two Wolfensohn Scholarships will be awarded. In 2018, with the support of agency co-funding, we were able to award four scholarships.

What it funds and opportunity to provide co-funding support

The Wolfensohn Scholarship will fund attendance at one of the HKS’s executive education programs and return economy air travel to Boston. HKS executive education programs include board while attending. The scholarship does not include other accommodation or travel expenses.

Applicants will be required to nominate which HKS executive education program they propose to attend. Courses cover a wide range of topics including public sector management (through the flagship “Senior Managers in Government” program which runs for three weeks from late July), through thematic courses around policy areas such as defence, development, financial management and education. The HKS’s executive education program and calendar is on their website at https://exed.hks.harvard.edu/#

Recipients will have 12 calendar months to complete their studies, from the date of award of the Wolfensohn Scholarship.

The HCA is looking to be able to maximise the opportunity for outstanding candidates to receive a Wolfensohn Scholarship and to this end is looking for co-funding support for the Scholarship. To this end, the HCA will provide a base funding support for one week program at the HKS (to the amount of US$10,000), plus return economy airfare to Boston, and will assess having regard to the mix of candidates whether to support the more expensive three week programs (Senior Managers in Government and Senior Executive Fellows).

In this regard, Department or Agency heads should indicate in their nomination, if the nominee proposes to attend a three week program (or one of the two week programs), whether your department/agency would provide co-funding support for the balance of the course fees above the standard one week program.

As an indication, this co-funding support could be in the order of up to US$11,000 for a long course program.

There is a place on the nomination form to indicate whether the department/agency will provide co- funding support. The selection committee will have regard to whether there is co-funding support for candidates seeking to undertake longer than one-week programs, as part of its overall assessment and in determining the total number of awards that will be made.


Nomination and Application Process

The Wolfensohn Scholars will be selected as follows:

1. Nomination – Department or Agency heads are invited to nominate one individual from their Department or Agency and one individual from outside their Department or Agency. Please only nominate individuals who you feel meet the eligibility criteria – specifically, individuals who are expected to play a significant role in the design and implementation of public policy in Australia, possibly as a Department or Agency head in the near term. Nomination is very straightforward and can only be made by Department or Agency heads using the attached nomination form (also available on the HCA website). The nomination form should be completed and returned as indicated on the form. The nominated form can be found on the HCA website at: www.harvardclub.org.au/wolfensohn-scholarship

Nominations Due by Thursday, 23 May 2019

Department, agency or entity heads are invited to nominate one individual from their own organisation and/or one individual from another Department, agency or entity.  The HCA will write to public service commission and selected department and agencies directly inviting nominations.

2.    Applications Due by Thursday 23 May 2019

Nominees will be required to submit their applications for the Wolfensohn Scholarship by the same time as Nominations.  Only applicants who have been nominated by Thursday, 23 May 2018 will be considered.

3.    Applications are now open and close on Thursday, 23 May 2019.

3. Interview – based on applications received, a shortlist will be prepared for interview. It is expected that interviews will be conducted in mid-July 2019.

If you have any questions about the Wolfensohn Scholarship including about the nomination or application process, please contact the convenors of the Wolfensohn Scholarship – Luke Woodward at lwoodward@gtlaw.com.au or on (02) 9263 4014