Being a student can be tough, especially in these uncertain economic times. But for a select group of undergraduate IT students, information technology consulting company 3W has extended a helping hand.
Eager to support financially-disadvantaged students in their tertiary pursuits, 3W joint CEO Andrew McCarroll, established a scholarship fund “not for the brightest or the best in the class, but for students who are struggling.”
McCarroll approached UTS’s Equity and Diversity Unit (EDU) with the proposition. Recognising an opportunity for partnership, EDU put him in contact with Development Manager, Jaine Fleetwood.
Fleetwood admits she “initially thought it was quite an unusual approach to a scholarship; a lot are merit-based and plus this time it was someone approaching us to give us money – we’re used to doing it the other way round! But it’s really nice that this scholarship is a reflection of Andrew’s personal experience at uni.”
Pitching the scholarship scheme to Fleetwood, McCarroll said 3W “really wanted to put something back into the IT industry in Australia at a grassroots level. All of 3W’s directors and founders were struggling uni students in our earlier lives, so we thought a scholarship aimed at students who could do with some financial assistance to help them through their studies, would be a great start.”
The scholarship will potentially see three second-year IT students each receiving $2000 to spend as they wish. The criterion for selection is refreshingly regular. “As long as the students have achieved pass grades, then they’re eligible,” says Fleetwood.
McCarroll adds, “There are very little conditions attached on how the money is to be used. It provides total flexibility and allows students to apply the funds to whatever they need the most. Ultimately they’re the best judges of how to spend it.
“If it helps students apply themselves to their studies and achieve better results than say having to do more hours in a part-time job to survive, then it’s great for them and we’ve done our job.”
Fleetwood believes such scholarships will help to increase UTS’s philanthropic culture. “What I hope for in the long term, is that once those students who have benefited from a scholarship graduate and go on to work, they may think, ‘well, someone supported me in my degree,’ and they will give something back to the university. Hopefully what we’re doing now will be replicated in the future and there will eventually be an embedded culture of giving in the university.”
Like Fleetwood, McCarroll believes 3W’s scholarship is not only an immediate boost for struggling students, but a long-term investment in industry and education.
“This is a fledgling relationship that we would like to see grow, both in terms of the number of scholarships we can offer to UTS students and in our involvement with UTS. Going forward, we would like to be able to offer our scholarship recipients the chance to do practical work experience during their studies and also provide possible job opportunities at the end of their degree.
“We’ve always liked the blend of curriculum and practical experience that UTS provides for its students. I think it ultimately broadens their immediate and longer-term career prospects.”
The scholarship recipients will be announced in early June.
Marketing and Communication Unit
Photographer: Joanne Saad