The Whitehouse Institute of Design has broken its silence over the 'Abbott scandal'.
The private college has recently come under fire over a “mystery” scholarship which was awarded to Prime Minister Tony Abbott's middle daughter Frances Abbott in 2011 on the basis of “merit”.
However, commenting exclusively to Ragtrader, Whitehouse Institute of Design CEO Ian Tudor has defended the institute's scholarship selection process and denied any bias.
“The Whitehouse Institute of Design has offered a variety of scholarships for 25 years, including the Chairman’s Scholarship (formerly the Managing Director’s Scholarship),” he said.
“All scholarships are discretionary and awarded on merit. As with any private educational establishment, we have a duty to protect the privacy of our current and former students and therefore are not providing details on discussions that led to individual scholarship decisions.”
Tudor also refuted recent allegations that Frances Abbott was chosen by the Whitehouse Institute of Design to lobby the Federal Government for course accreditations worth millions while a student.
“At no time has the Institute lobbied the Prime Minister on issues of education policy or the accreditation of Whitehouse courses,” Tudor said.
Anger has been building in the community since the revelation, over the ambiguity of what has been dubbed the “secret scholarship”.
The rare scholarship, worth $60,636, meant Frances Abbott was required to pay just $7546 towards her three-year bachelor in design, from which she graduated with distinction in December 2013.
Matters were made murkier when it was reported that Abbott is a close friend of the institute's chairman, Les Taylor, who has also been shown to have donated large sums to the NSW Liberal Party.
Frances Abbott has since moved to Melbourne where she works for Whitehouse as a teacher's aide.