Rhodes Scholarship to Auckland student

22 November 2010

Richard Higgins, an Arts and Commerce student at The University of Auckland, has been awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University.

He and two others, from Canterbury and Otago Universities, were selected after interviews with shortlisted candidates at Government House in Auckland. The scholarships, among the most esteemed worldwide for university graduates furthering their studies overseas, cover fees at Oxford and pay a living stipend of $25,000 a year.

Richard, 23, the third winner from Auckland in three years, will take up his Rhodes Scholarship in October 2011. Currently he is completing a BA/BCom conjoint degree majoring in Economics, Finance and International Business.

At Oxford he plans to spend two years studying for a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies, specialising in foreign investment in developing countries. Deeply interested in how business can solve the problems of poor, vulnerable countries he is keen to gain the social and historical perspective that the course provides. "The MPhil also requires a summer of field work which excites me greatly."

After completing his studies at Oxford, Richard would like to work in an industry with global strategic focus. The mining, infrastructure and transportation sectors have always held his interest and this summer he will be based in Sydney, working for a listed energy utilities fund. Eventually he would like to return and contribute to New Zealand.

Richard is drawn to Oxford "by the visceral things as much as the academic". David Lange's speech to the Oxford Union ("my favourite event in New Zealand's political history"), the writings of C S Lewis, once a professor of English at Oxford, which helped him understand his Christian faith, and "ironically" the role of Cecil Rhodes in helping shape the history which will form much of his course "make the potential of an Oxford experience particularly poignant".

Born in Wairoa, Richard lived in Whakatane, Rotorua, Whangarei and Wellington before moving with his family to their current home in Tauranga. There he attended Otumoetai College where he was head prefect, Proxime Accessit and widely involved in sport, music, drama and debating.

He entered university with a University of Auckland Scholarship for academic excellence, all round ability and leadership potential, and in turn was a mentor to subsequent scholarship recipients.

He won the annual prize in International Business in 2008 and the Deutsche Bank Scholarship in Financial Markets and Investment Banking in 2010. Last year he spent a semester at Keio University in Japan under Auckland's Study Abroad scheme.

Richard has worked for the United Nations Youth Association of NZ and the New Zealand National Party, is a member of the Asia New Zealand Young Leaders' Network, and has had involvement with a number of economics advisory and research groups. He is a qualified sports coach and this year was head coach of the 1st XI girls' hockey team at Massey High School.

Richard has sung with the Pride of Auckland Men's Barbershop Chorus. For relaxation he enjoys reading, playing the guitar, drawing and running.

Proven intellectual and academic ability of a high standard are required of applicants for a Rhodes Scholarship. They must also show integrity of character, interest in and respect for their fellow beings, the ability to lead and the energy to use their talents to the full. In this country, the awards are administered by Universities New Zealand.