Greek Australian lawyer and community leader Alexander Batsis has been awarded a scholarship to pursue studies at the University of Oxford in England.

Batsis was one of 16 to be chosen from a pool of 287 applicants for the General Sir John Monash scholarship.

He’ll commence his postgraduate degree at Oxford in September where he plans to investigate the intersection between mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, climate change and the transition to net zero.

Last week, Batsis received his scholarship by the Australia’s governor general David Hurley and his wife Linda Hurley.

Lawyer and community leader Alexander Batsis. Photo: Supplied

The Oxford dream

He told Neos Kosmos how honoured he was, even to be amongst a group of leaders from a diverse set of fields.

“It’s a great honour to be awarded the General Sir John Monash scholarship … (and) a privilege to be amongst a talented group of leaders making a significant impact in Australia,” Batisis said.

“I’ve known of Oxford for years, I mean, I reckon every kid in Australia has or had an Oxford English dictionary.

“Throughout law school, all the esteemed publications and books come from Oxford. It’s the best university in the world for law. I definitely dreamed of it.”

Currently a lawyer at international commercial law firm, Allens, he practices in mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, foreign investment law, and environmental, social and governance.

Alex with his father Dimitrios. Photo: Supplied

Community at heart

Batsis is also a passionate community leader, and currently sits on the board of Minus18 Foundation, which is one of Australia’s largest youth charities.

Graduating from La Trobe University with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) First Class in 2019, he has since won over 15 awards, commendations and scholarships.

The most notable of them being the International Bar Association (IBA) corporate law scholarship in 2022, where he attended the IBA annual conference in Miami.

It was there that he and others heard from Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the importance of law.

Pursuing further education was always important in the Batsis household.

Alex with his sister Eleni. Photo: Supplied

His father, Dimitrios migrated to Melbourne in 1969 at the age of 17 from Sofiko Korinthias, and his late mother Sophie was from Florina.

“My parents have always instilled in me the importance of education and the pursuit of knowledge,” Batsis said.

“Especially my father, who unfortunately did not have the opportunity to attend high school, as he was made to work at the age of 12.

“When I think of that, it’s quite a generational shift. It was a big deal in my family for us to just go to university, let alone to get to Oxford. So yeah, it is quite remarkable.”

Greek identity and its generational renewal

He has remained connected to his Greek roots throughout life, in his youth it was education, despite not pursuing Greek in VCE, and into adulthood it has become a more cultural and social connection.

Alex and his nephew James, who is deeply connected to his Greek heritage. Photo: Supplied

While there has been much discourse around Greek language study recently, most families still see the need to immerse their children in the language and culture.

“It’s great to see the new generation adopting and immersing themselves in Greek culture,” Batsis said.

“My nephew James is a great example — he’s re-enlivened Greek culture in our family and dare I say is a better Greek speaker than me.

He said he is proud of James’ involvement with the church choir and Sunday school, and the Greek community in Melbourne.

“James is also talented at English, and legal studies and politics, so I’m hoping he chooses to pursue law as well, when he graduates this year. Maybe he’ll go to Oxford, too!”

Batsis says there are many talented Greeks out there as doctors, lawyers and academics, and all are making a huge impact.

All examples that the new generations of Greeks should pursue further education if they want – “especially at these universities that you look at and think ‘there’s no way I can get there’, but you can.”