Griffith legal eagles bound for Oxford and Cambridge

Griffith law alumni Shaun Milligan and Matthew Sharp have won scholarships to study at Oxford and Cambridge.

A pair of Griffith University law alumni have won postgraduate scholarships to Oxford and Cambridge, where they will study alongside the best legal minds in the world.

Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of Criminology graduate Matthew Sharp is the inaugural winner of the World Universities Ramsay Postgraduate Scholarship, worth $85,000. He will embark on a Master of Law at Cambridge University later this year.

“My hands were shaking when I received the scholarship offer — it still hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said.

“I will have the chance to study international humanitarian law, international human rights law and the law of armed conflict, use of force and peacekeeping, which have always been interests of mine.

“I hope my time at Cambridge will give me the knowledge, experience and connections to one day represent Australia on the international stage and help make a difference.”

After dropping out of high school, Matthew had a second chance to pursue an education after serving several tours of duty with the Australian Army in East Timor and Afghanistan.

He was able to enter university thanks to the Queensland Tertiary Admission Centre’s unique entry pathway for veterans — an opportunity he credits with changing the course of his life.

Matthew Sharp (left) during his time in the ADF

“I had been a combat soldier, so uni was a bit of an adjustment,” he said.

“My first year was daunting, but Griffith offered so much support, from workshops to academic mentors and the PASS scheme.”

“Matthew established the Australian Student Veterans Association and went on to become a member of the Honours College and won a New Colombo Plan Scholarship at Griffith.

He now works as a solicitor at Herbert Smith Freehills.

His advice for students is simple: seize every opportunity.

“Put your hand up for everything and give it a go — it’s a chance to grow as a person and develop your CV,” he said.

Griffith law/business alumnus Shaun Milligan

Bachelor of Laws (Honours) / Bachelor of Business graduate Shaun Milligan received the Ian Wilson-Guy White Magdalen College Oxford Australia Scholarship.

He will study the masters level Bachelor of Civil Law at Oxford’s famed Magdalen College, which boasts former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, former Australian Attorney-General George Brandis and several Australian High Court justices among its alumni.

“I was ecstatic. Any of these types of scholarships, especially to a top university like Oxford, are always incredibly competitive, so to win this was hugely rewarding,” he said.

Shaun said he had dreamed of attending Oxford since his teens.

“Oxford University has some of the best legal academics and practitioners teaching the brightest young legal minds from around the world.”

“Half of the postgraduate students at Oxford are international, so to be surrounded by people from diverse cultural backgrounds will provide a truly global educational experience.”

Winning a New Colombo Plan Scholarship while he was at Griffith University sparked Shaun’s interest in human rights law and international dispute resolution.

On his return from Oxford, he will also join Herbert Smith Freehills, where he plans to work with the law firm’s Business and Human Rights practice group.

“Traveling throughout Asia as part of the New Colombo Plan Scholarship made me passionate about using my education to give back and create positive change,” he said.

“My role with Herbert Smith Freehills will allow me to advise some of Australia’s largest businesses on how to protect and enhance human rights in domestic and overseas operations.”

Shaun said his time at Griffith had allowed him to tap into a network of like-minded students who were passionate about social justice.

“It showed me how I could use my law degree to help those who are marginalised in society — something I’ve been able to explore as an editor of the Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity.

“It showed me what was possible and helped me reach my potential.”