PFM Hardship Bursary

Image provided by University of Tasmania, photographer Osbourne Images.

Earlier in the year, we worked with the University of Tasmania to divert our usual scholarships to a more urgent need of hardship bursaries for the accommodation students who found themselves out of work in the hospitality sector due to COVID lockdown restrictions. We spoke with Dee Hunwick, our Operations Manager at University of Tasmania Student Accommodation, to hear how things transpired.

What brought the initiative about?

We were approached by a consortium from the university and asked if we were prepared to fund hardship bursaries. Students living in student accommodation had been severely impacted as their regular source of income to supplement studies and accommodation had been impacted by COVID restrictions. The majority of these students work in hospitality, haven’t we all been there, and since those jobs were gone, they had no means to financially support themselves.

Programmed annually supports University of Tasmania students through our two scholarships, but for 2020 the funds were diverted to the COVID Hardship Bursary.

How was the Hardship Bursary administered?

It was decided to pool the two scholarships and provide 12 students with financial support. Programmed worked with the university to help identify criteria to ensure the money was provided to accommodation students in true need of financial assistance.

Through a rigorous application session administered by the university, over 190 applications were received. The university identified the 12 successful applicants and promptly transferred the funds to them.

Have Hardship Bursaries made a difference to the students?

Without a doubt the accommodation students have been extremely thankful for the support offered.  The reduction in stress over paying accommodation fees or just simply being able to afford groceries has been alleviated, which has assisted in better mental health.

At Programmed, we really do back our values and Care and Empathy is a big one for my team at the University of Tasmania. As most of the students in accommodation are far away from home, and had returned to university before all the lockdowns, it was important to us to check on their welfare, together with the university.

Rebecca Cuthill the Associate Director of Fundraising at the University of Tasmania acknowledged the impact of the support offered by Programmed to these students. 

“We were delighted to work with Programmed to help deliver these hardship bursaries at a time when our students were suffering financial hardship.

Many students lost their jobs and alternative sources of income, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This generous support helped to complement the assistance that the University of Tasmania, with support from our community of alumni, donors and staff, made available to all students in need. It was heartening to have such strong support from Programmed for our most vulnerable students.”

Thank you, Dee and the team, over at the University of Tasmania, together with the university staff involved, for looking out for the accommodation students in these uncertain times.


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Programmed is a leading provider of operations and maintenance services across Australia and New Zealand. Our business model is built around our ability to recruit, deploy, manage and maintain a large, directly employed workforce of professional, skilled and semi-skilled staff with a wide range of capabilities. We are proud to efficiently serve more than 10,000 customers every day.

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