As 2023 draws to a close, I reflect with immense pride on the journey SUPRA has made. This year has been a testament to our unwavering commitment to the postgraduate community at the University of Sydney.

One of our most significant initiatives this year was the launch of the Social Impact Grant Scheme, thanks to the hard work of the SUPRA Community Engagement Officer. SUPRA introduced this program to support and empower innovative projects that positively impact the postgraduate community.

We also made significant strides in supporting student carers through the establishment of the SUPRA Student Carers’ Network. This network provides a much-needed platform for student carers to connect, share experiences, and access resources tailored to their unique challenges.

Another notable accomplishment was our participation in the Disabled Honi 23, an initiative that highlights the experiences and challenges faced by disabled students. And the hard work of the Disabilities Officer contributed to the opening of a new Disabilities Community Room on campus – a significant achievement. These projects represent our commitment to inclusivity and the representation of diverse voices within the university community.

Our relentless efforts in advocating for travel concessions for all students in NSW marked another significant achievement. We highlighted the discriminatory practices against international and part-time students and called for legislative changes to ensure equal access to travel concessions. This effort will continue until we see progress. For updates, please visit our Fair Fares campaign page.

Addressing another crucial aspect of student life, we issued an open letter concerning the food and drink services on University of Sydney campuses. Recognising the importance of accessible, quality, and culturally appropriate food options for our students, we called for substantial improvements in this area. As suggested by SUPRA, the University has funded a student-staff committee to work on improving food and drink on campus.

Responding to the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report, we advocated for improved support for First Nations Peoples and disabled students, and increased stipends for PhD students. This response underscores our commitment to addressing structural issues contributing to student welfare and success.

In our submission to the Improving NSW Rental Laws consultation, we championed tenant rights, focusing on ending no-fault terminations and providing more protections for tenants with pets. Our engagement at the 33rd ISANA Conference saw us addressing the critical issue of student housing, emphasizing the challenges faced by international students in securing accommodation. Our advocacy called for university responsibility in providing affordable and accessible housing options.

Another highlight was celebrating 100+ years of international student education at the University of Sydney – highlighting the rich history and contributions of international students. It was an opportunity to honour the diverse global connections that have shaped the University community over the years. Our exhibition, digital storytelling and symposium were all fantastic celebrations.

In December 2023, we reached a pivotal milestone with the successful advocacy for increased support and a new governance model for international students at the University of Sydney. Stemming from a comprehensive roundtable discussion, this achievement will lead to the development of an International Student road map for 2024.

We voiced our concerns over support for international students, highlighting the need for a streamlined migration system and action against racism within Australia. We took a firm stance against proposed changes to the Temporary Graduate Visa policy. Advocating for a reconsideration of the age cap, we urged the government to adopt a grandfathering approach to these changes, reflecting our commitment to equitable education opportunities.

As we move forward, SUPRA remains dedicated to advocating for the rights and well-being of postgraduate students. I am grateful for the hard work of our team and the support of our student community. Together, we will continue to strive for a more inclusive and equitable university experience for all.

Weihong Liang
SUPRA President