The Australian National University will set up a $50 million scholarship fund to ensure no Indigenous Australian is unable to study at the institution because they cannot afford to, vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt has announced.
Professor Schmidt used his State of the University address on Friday to promise any Indigenous student who is admitted to the university would have the "financial, academic and pastoral support" they needed to succeed.
Less than 1 per cent of the university's domestic students identify as Indigenous, compared to 3.3 per cent of the Australian population more broadly.
"If Australia is to trust its national university, we must do everything we can to resemble the country we seek to serve," Professor Schmidt said.
"If we are honest, we haven't yet done enough to look like Australia."
The Kambri Scholarship scheme will be funded through a $50 million endowment.
The university will match philanthropic gifts dollar-for-dollar until it reaches that goal.
Millions of dollars of seed funding has already been provided, so the program can begin this year.
It is understood there are no caps or restrictions on the fund.
The university will also attempt to become "carbon negative" as quickly as possible, Professor Schmidt said.
The resolution was forged in his first meeting with new Chancellor Julie Bishop.
"In 2020 we are faced here in Australia with some of the most significant challenges of climate change yet seen on the planet," he said.
"An almost universal concern across our campus is the impact of climate change. The world is looking to us, and other leading universities, for action and solutions, so the Chancellor and I resolved that we must do something significant."
Professor Schmidt has also revealed he will seek a second term as the vice-chancellor of the university.
The astronomer was appointed to the role in 2016, after years of cost-cutting at the institution.
The university has been his home since 1995, when he moved from the US to Canberra's Mount Stromlo observatory.
It was where he undertook his Nobel Prize-winning research that found the Universe's expansion rate was accelerating, not decelerating as previously thought.
Professor Schmidt has also put his own stamp on the university. He made headlines when it was revealed his vice-chancellor salary package was $662,500 in 2017, well below the $1.445 million taken home by the University of Sydney Vice Chancellor Michael Spence. Professor Schmidt was apparently of the view that to be paid more would be inappropriate.
He also appeared in 275 negative press articles in 35 days after ANU turned down funding from the Ramsay Centre to run a Western civilisation degree, because the centre wanted to conduct "health checks" on what was being taught.
Professor Schmidt has also steered the uni through its response to a damning Australian Human Rights Commission report, which found nearly 40 per cent of students had been sexually harrassed and three per cent had been sexually assaulted.
He also released unprecedented detail about how hackers cracked into the personal records of 200,000 students and staff in an act of "radical transparency".
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