Postgraduate study can be exciting and satisfying, but at the same time forces us to face all kinds of new challenges as we progress in our chosen fields. We caught up with Yuning Zhang, co-education officer in the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA), who explains how SUPRA can help you along your postgraduate journey.
Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA) represents all postgraduate students at University. SUPRA consists of a student council of 34 elected postgrads, and employs experienced caseworkers and solicitors to provide professional, free and confidential advice and advocacy services for Usyd postgrads.
‘We are proudly independent, and here to support you without conflicts of interest,’ says Yuning.
‘SUPRA is your voice both within the University and in the wider community. All postgraduate students at the University – Higher Degree by Research and coursework – are free to become SUPRA members and enjoy our free services and events.’
Yuning is a PhD candidate in Business Analytics at the University of Sydney Business School. She has been involved with SUPRA since 2021, initially as a volunteer for the social media and Q&A platform, then as Deputy Queer Officer and now as Co-education Officer. Having been at the University for several years, Yuning is well placed to offer guidance and support to new postgrads who are struggling to find their way.
‘I have answered over 400 enquiries and guided students to where to seek professional help for their academic, wellbeing, and legal issues, and helped over 300 new students engage the uni life and meet more friends. I hosted or presented in over 10 SUPRA workshops and shared my university tips as a USyd dinosaur. In addition, I brought students’ feedback from Q&A platform and workshops to committee meetings across the uni as a student representative,’ says Yuning.
We are proudly independent, and here to support you without conflicts of interest.
As mentioned, setting out on postgraduate study can bring new challenges that students may not have come across during undergrad. And SUPRA and Yuning are here to help – with legal enquiries, advocacy for students, providing an equity network and of course, social events.
‘SUPRA’s caseworkers are ready and willing to assist you with (almost) anything that prevents you from making progress in your studies,’ explains Yuning.
‘The SUPRA council leads student campaigns and changes to University policies and practices that benefit postgrads, through representative work on committees. Our caseworkers can also give advice on a range of other issues that might impact your life or wellbeing, such as housing and accommodation. And importantly, SUPRA coordinates seven networks for postgraduate students at the University of Sydney, in order to support their specific equity needs within the University. These are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduates’ Network, Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Students’ Network, International Postgraduate Students’ Network, Network for Postgraduates Living with Disabilities, Postgraduate Women’s Network, Queer Postgraduates’ Network, Satellite Campus Postgraduates’ Network.’
But SUPRA is also well aware that a huge part of postgrad are the friends and fun you get to make along the way.
‘SUPRA council holds diverse activities such as our Welcome Party, Wine & Cheese, Free Lunch and more. Just come along and let yourself have some fun during the intensity of the semester!’ says Yuning.
All activities and services are free to members. SUPRA funded by a portion of your Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). Whenever you need help, just sign up for SUPRA, and professional solicitors and caseworkers will get back to you without charging you anything.
‘I am always keen on advocating for the equity network to eliminate discrimination on campus and aim to improve academic and social engagement for all students. In my Education Officer role, I have many opportunities to get in touch with students, hear their voices, bridge the students with the university, and sometimes witness the positive changes in the University because we let students be heard,' explains Yuning.
Register online as a SUPRA member for free, or attend the Welcome Fest stall or events to sign up in-person. Members can use legal and casework services, receive the weekly newsletter, Grad Post, and access other benefits.
Contact SUPRA or email email@example.com. You can get help from the casework and legal services by sending an online request or email at any time, and you will receive a response during working hours, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. For student representative matters, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make sure to follow SUPRA's social media platforms and keep updated with upcoming events.