Up to nine year 11 and 12 students have the chance to live the life of an Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) marine biologist on Maria Island on Tasmania’s East Coast thanks to a range of scholarships that are now open for applications.

As part of the University Connections Program, IMAS is offering four Tasmanian and five interstate students scholarships for its six-day course XAS101: A Practical Introduction to Temperate Marine Biology during the April school holidays from Wednesday 18 April, until Monday 23 April. The course includes five days on Maria Island and one day in the classroom.

Students from outside Tasmania will be flown to Hobart to see the unique environment that Tasmanian students have access to all year round. Students who wish to apply will need to demonstrate a keen interest and/or experience in the marine environment, or socio-economic or geographic disadvantage.

The innovative teaching program was recognised in 2016 with a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Enhancement of the Student Experience, which reflects the hands-on learning style of the course.

Course coordinator Dr Scott Ling said the University College program allows Year 11 and 12 students to experience university-level units alongside their pre-tertiary studies.

This program is a fantastic opportunity for students from all over Australia to experience marine science first hand; they get a veritable eco-tour of eastern Tasmania but are also taught how to collect scientific data in the field.

“The students collect information on the abundances of fishes and invertebrates, which appends to our ongoing monitoring of changes in eastern Tasmania. In particular, we now see more species from New South Wales than ever before as waters continue to warm.

"The students develop keen skills of observation and an eye for detail.  It is fantastic to see them get out of the classroom and do science by making observations and asking questions from first principles.

"We also do most of the lecturing on Maria Island, so students get to learn the theory and dive beneath the waves to put it all in to practice.

Many of the students who received this opportunity have thrived in this environment and have gone on to the IMAS degree program at the University of Tasmania, which is ranked as one of the best places to study marine science globally.

XAS101 is offered with a HECS waiver, meaning students will not attract any extra tuition fees, and successful completion can be used to contribute one unit (12.5%) to a University of Tasmania marine science degree.

Scholarship applications close at midnight on Tuesday 27 Feb 2018. Fee-paying places on the course are also available and will be offered to those narrowly missing out on scholarships.

To receive a scholarship application pack, visit the IMAS website.