APS Leadership Team Report March 2022
Originally published in Semper Floreat
We’d like to begin this report by stating APS acknowledges the First Nations peoples as the original owners and custodians of the lands on which we gather, work, and learn across this land. We recognise, respect, and celebrate the contributions of First Nations peoples to our society and academic tradition. Our association is made stronger by elevating the voices of all members, respecting Country, and contributing to discussions around what is so-called Australia.
Let’s dive right in:
The UQ Association of Postgraduate Students is the student representative organisation for postgraduate students at UQ – simple enough.
A brief history:
2006-2011 Various postgraduate clubs, societies and informal groups exist around campus
2011 The Association of Postgraduate Students is formed
2015 APS is recognised as an independent Union Body
2020 APS begins activity again after pandemic interruptions
2021 APS holds first major in person events in 5 years
2022 APS receives dedicated grant from UQ to deliver services to postgrads
Two questions we get asked a lot: Who is a postgraduate student and why do they need special representation?
Lets start with who. The distinction as laid out in the Australian Qualifications Framework (2013) is simple. Postgraduates are students studying a Graduate Certificate, Grad. Diploma, Masters or Doctoral qualification. Undergrads are diplomas, advanced diplomas, associate degrees, bachelors and Bachelor Honours Degree.
Why special representation? Postgrads are typically significantly more advanced academically and in their lived experiences.
I think the academic distinction speaks for itself. Our interests academically will be far more niche and far more in depth. But lets talk about life. The mean age of domestic postgraduate students in Australia is 30-39 years old (CAPA 2017). Now I don’t know many 30-39 year olds who share a huge overlap of interests with your average 18-21 year old in an undergraduate degree. Far from embracing the title of Boomers, most of us just aren’t interested in Toga Parties and Boat Races at the Reddo (although we would obliterate you, make no mistake), and likewise we don’t expect your average 2nd year to be keen on Research Thesis writing groups or Careers Fairs targeted at established professionals.
What does APS do?
APS exists for 3 simple aims:
encourage a postgraduate student community through organized social events, professional development, and support;
promote postgraduate health and wellbeing;
and to provide a voice to postgraduate students at UQ.
In 2022, we’re looking to review our almost decade old goals and will be seeking input from postgraduate students. With our upcoming review, we want to capture the diversity our postgraduate community, from every corner of every campus and online too.
We achieve our three aims through programs delivered across a variety of portfolios, rolled out by dedicated volunteer ambassadors and VPs in events, development, mental health and well being, academic advocacy, and student boards, with the support of our faculty reps board and mental health advisory council.
Advocacy wise, we’re taking on three key areas: material support, equitable recognition, and keeping our academic quality high.
Addressing these areas means the historic under representation of postgraduate students in university governance has got to end. As of 2022, APS appoints or recommends representatives for a variety of committees around the university, including schools, faculties, Academic Board and Senate, and we meet on a quarterly basis to align advocacy interests and ensure student feedback is shared. We also work closely with the Grad School, Faculties, Student Services, the Chancellery, UQ Sport and just about anyone who sets up shop on campus to make sure postgraduate students aren’t left out of the mix.
We’re also working to ensure equitable recognition not only in committees but on campuses too. Despite making up close to 40% of the student population across all of UQ’s teaching sites, there was no dedicated Postgraduate space. Compare this with our women’s, queer and disabilities collectives which represent (roughly) 50%, 15% and 5% of students respectively. In the next month or so, the Postgraduate Lounge will be opening on Level 2 of the UQU Complex, just beside the Schonell theatre (down the hall from the Red Room entrance). The lounge will be a space for postgrad students to gather, meet peers outside their own immediate cohort, and take up some of the much-rationed space on this campus, with a dedicated quiet workspace and collaborative workspace.
How can I get involved?
If you’re interested in just coming to events, or a bit more connection, check out our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/uqaps
We also have an ambassador program taking new participants all the time, and due to the nature of postgraduate studies we routinely need to fill casual vacancies on our management committee and university committees.
For more details about anything mentioned herein, email firstname.lastname@example.org
We’d also like to thank the Semper Editorial team for extending the opportunity to provide an Association of Postgraduate Students report. One of our major aims for the year was bringing recognition to the some 20,000 students on campus who have chosen to come back and do further study, and UQ’s largest independent news media outlet seems like a perfect platform for that.
May you always flourish,
Will Triste & Ricky Lee APS a/President, APS Secretary
Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Australian Qualifications Framework, 2013.
Council of Australian Postgraduate Students (CAPA), Submission to Education and Employment References Committee, Penalty Rates Inquiry, July 2017.