Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

Getting more people along to student-organised events and throwing her support behind the Study Wage For All campaign are highlights so far for the Otago University Students’ Association 2023 postgraduate representative.

Keegan Wells is just over halfway through her year-long appointment.

While growing engagement with Otago Postgraduate Association’s (OPA) events, of which she is president, and supporting OUSA president Quinten Jane’s campaign for a Study Wage For All have been highlights, the University’s proposed redundancies having a negative impact on the postgraduate student community are an obvious low, she says.

Postgraduate students are feeling the effects of the proposed redundancies more than undergraduate students, Wells says, because they work quite a bit more closely with staff, such as their supervisors.

“We have a lot of people who might want to get into the field of academia, and see the current climate, and be deterred by it which can be really difficult and really challenging as well.

“It’s personal for postgraduate students.”

Wells campaigned on bringing back the postgraduate student allowance, which was scrapped for postgraduate students at tertiary institutions across Aotearoa New Zealand in 2013.

This year she has contacted both Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Finance Minister Grant Robertson, asking them to reinstall it.

“I’ve basically received the same note back from both of them, as even though it was both their policy [to bring it back], COVID happened, and obviously everybody is needing more money.”

Not one for giving up, she says she has since shifted her focus towards pushing for the Study Wage For All.

It would be an “all encompassing” student allowance that all students could apply for, including postgraduate, she says.

“Quintin has been making a lot of headway on that. There is a petition out there similar to how we ran the Winter Energy Payment petition.”

Wells and other members of OUSA executive have been busy approaching local MPs trying to get the Study Wage For All off the ground.

OPA has had really good engagement this year “which is phenomenal”, she says.

A postgraduate happy hour will be starting up soon at Auahi Ora in the Union Building, OPA recently held a professional headshot phot session and there is a ball coming up, too.

Before the year is over, Wells hopes to maintain the support system and community OPA has created, and finish off her own thesis, as well as continuing to navigate “anything that pops up”.

-Kōrero by Koren Allpress, Internal Communications Adviser

Back to top