​Larissa Zhang is congratulated by RateCity's director of public relations, Georgie Hay

UNSW Business School student Larissa Zhang is celebrating after being awarded a $3,000 RateCity Business and Finance Scholarship for her astute analysis on the importance of financial literacy in young people. 

Zhang, who is in the third year of a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies/Commerce degree, won the inaugural prize after submitting a 500-word essay on the topic: 'Should financial literacy be taught in schools? Why or why not?' 

She argued that it was vitally important for young people to have awareness of issues such as housing affordability and the dangers of buy-now pay-later schemes such as Afterpay, with the panel of judges hugely impressed with her analysis. 

Zhang says: “In the essay I outline the importance of financial literacy and I address some of the main issues that are facing young people today. 

For instance, home affordability and the housing market and increasing property prices - and how many young people are now facing the possibility that they may not be able to afford a house. 

Another issue was the variety of financial products and services available, such as AfterPay, that may create a false illusion of financial security. 

I think it's important for young people to be able to protect themselves and have the awareness so they are in a better position for the future. 

“I thought the essay topic itself was especially interesting, because I remember from a young age in school hearing about all these big financial words that were extremely confusing. It really wasn’t taught at school, but it would help so many if the curriculum was just tweaked a bit. 

“I was extremely thrilled when I heard about receiving this prize and extremely surprised as well. I found it really interesting to write the essay and it's something that I feel strongly about, so I'm delighted to have won.” 

RateCity, a financial comparison website, offered the scholarship to help support students in business or related fields who are interested in finance, investing, lending and economics. 

Applicants had to be studying accounting, actuarial studies, banking, business, commerce, economics, finance, management, marketing or property at an Australian university - with more than 100 essays being submitted for consideration.