Eligible students completing the Bachelor of Economics/Bachelor of Advanced Studies currently have the opportunity to win $10,000 courtesy of The Judith Yates Essay Prize in Economics. The annual prize celebrates one winner who presents a solution to a real-world challenge facing Australia’s economy and population.
To enter, eligible students must write an essay in response to a single question addressing the issue of unmet social needs. In 2023, the question is:
“Declines in the homeownership rate among younger cohorts of Australians has focussed attention on the issue of housing affordability. Identify, describe and assess two policy options for Australian governments to improve the affordability of housing for both those renting and those seeking to enter owner-occupation. How might such policies impact on economic inequality?”
To be eligible to enter, students must be studying a Bachelor of Economics/Bachelor of Advanced Studies at the University of Sydney. They must also be enrolled in their second or third year of the pre-Honours pathway or enrolled in the fourth year of the Honours pathway.
Applications for the prize are now open and will close 9 October 2023 at 11:59pm.
We spoke to previous prize winners, Khloe Lizardo and Alexandra Michielsen, about what winning the prize meant to them.
“Trying to balance work while studying as a full-time student was something I personally found a bit challenging,” says Khloe. “However, prizes that offer financial awards can be an incredibly helpful alternative, allowing you to study and spend quality time with family and friends.”
“I am extremely grateful for the financial award attached to the Judith Yates Essay prize,” Alexandra agrees. “It greatly supported my academic pursuits by alleviating some of the financial pressures that come with pursuing a university education. This allowed me to reduce my workload outside of university commitments, giving me the freedom to dedicate more time and energy to my studies.”
Outside of the financial incentive, both Alexandra and Khloe found the process of writing their essays rewarding – helping them grow in confidence, improve their problem-solving skills and tackle complex problems.
Read on to learn more about Khloe and Alexandra’s experiences writing their award-winning essays, where they found inspiration, and how the prize has impacted their futures.
Alexandra Michielsen won the Judith Yates Essay Prize in Economics when Australia was feeling the deep economic aftershock of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her challenge was to delve into the ramifications of the pandemic on economic equality in Australia.
“My essay examined the heightened vulnerability experienced by the most socially and economically marginalised communities in Australia,” she says. “I focused on the disproportionate impact on women, the impact on educational achievements of children, and the widening chasm between Indigenous and non-Indigenous workers.”
To combat the issues, Alexandra proposed three policies.
“To tackle worsening gender inequalities, I put forth the idea of gender-responsive fiscal measures", she says. “In response to deepening education disparities, my proposal centred around a remote educational delivery policy aimed at addressing concerns related to the digital divide. Lastly, to bridge the growing gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous workers, I recommended a community-tailored Indigenous-oriented policy.”
From writing the essay through to winning the prize, Alexandra found the experience had a profound effect on both her academic and social life.
“This accolade helped boost my confidence in academic writing and strengthened my skills in expressing my ideas assertively and articulately,” she says. “This newfound confidence has greatly assisted my academic endeavours, instilling in me a willingness to tackle complex subjects.”
Like Alexandra, Khloe won the Judith Yates Essay Prize in Economics when COVID-19 was one of the biggest socio-economic problems facing Australia. In response, Khloe wrote an essay about fiscal consolidation within the context of rising interest rates and record-high levels of public debt.
“As a productivity-boosting measure, I proposed the development of a school-level intervention aimed at upskilling the non-cognitive skills of students,” she explains. “Lastly, I suggested supporting our agricultural sector, as it is thought to be one of the most productive in the world.”
Khloe found one of the great benefits of entering the prize was discovering a new-found confidence in being able to tackle the big issues affecting our world.
“Although I was constantly second-guessing myself throughout the whole writing process, I was still determined to give it my best shot,” she remembers. “Ultimately, winning the Judith Yates Essay Prize was particularly symbolic for me as it gave me the opportunity to challenge my self-limiting beliefs and inspired me to pursue even more ambitious academic challenges.”
Banner image: Alexandra Michielsen pictured with Head of School of Economics, Professor Garry Barrett.