They were endowed by the diamond king and statesman, Cecil Rhodes (1853 – 1902), famous for his role in extending British interests in South Africa. The scholarships are tenable at Oxford University in England. Rhodes hoped that those who gained the benefits of Oxford, which he attended during 1873-1881, would go on to improve the lot of humanity and work towards maintaining peace between nations.The allocation of the scholarships throughout the world each year varies slightly from time to time. In 2008 the United States of America had 32 scholars, Canada and Australia 11 each, South Africa 9, Germany and India 4 and smaller numbers to other Commonwealth countries. The First awards were made in 1904, and Tasmania received its one hundredth award in 2006.
Applicants must be under 25 years of age and have completed their degree with first class honours. The selection committee is chaired by the Governor and is comprised of 3 former Rhodes Scholars and 3 representatives of the academic and wider community.
The successful scholar is expected to be ‘well rounded’ with participation and leadership in activities, including community affairs, outside those in the university. Personal qualities must include maturity, truthfulness, courage, unselfishness and fondness for or success in outdoor activities. The scholarship is for 2 years extendable to 3 and provides for fees and a living stipend.
New Town High School Old Scholars have been honoured with a remarkable number of Rhodes Scholarships since the school was established on this site.