Student Rights Collective Report – March 2024

From launching welfare initiatives to advocating for student voice and representation, this month has been a busy one for Student Rights!

by JERYN CHANG & JORDY DUFFEY, Vice Presidents (UQU Student Rights) | March 27 2024

The past month has been a busy time for the Student Rights Department, with several welfare initiatives launching for the semester. These include Morning Marmalade, Kampus Kitchen, and the opening of applications for the UQU Placement Bursary program. Given the cost of living crisis, we’ve witnessed increased demand for our welfare programs. Our team is working hard to ensure that students receive support while dealing with financial stress during their studies. 

In response to the record numbers of students benefiting from our welfare programs, we are excited to announce the official launch of the UQ Food Drive. This initiative accepts non-perishable food items that are unopened, unused, and have a minimum 4-week shelf life. We are collaborating with the broader UQ community and our suppliers to assist as many students as possible during these challenging times. 

Throughout the past month, we’ve engaged with various stakeholders, including the National Union of Students (NUS), Students Against Placement Poverty QLD, batyr, Heart on My Sleeve, and Foodbank. Our focus remains on addressing the diverse issues that students are experiencing. 

The UQ Food Drive has launched!
Student voice and representation

We are committed to advocating for student voice and representation, and supporting initiatives that align with this goal. We firmly believe that students’ experiences provide the most authentic voices and perspectives when addressing key academic matters and issues. As part of this commitment, we launched applications for the Academic Advocacy Network (AAN), creating a platform for students to serve as representatives within their schools or faculties and speak on academic matters on behalf of their peers. Although applications for the AAN have closed, we remain dedicated to establishing consistent and effective student representation across all schools and faculties. Stay tuned as we reform academic advocacy at UQ. 

Recognising the dynamic and ever-evolving academic needs of our student body, we held our first ever Academic Rights Forum on Wednesday March 6th. Students from diverse backgrounds – including undergrads and postgrads, first years and third years, domestic and international students – came together alongside the Academic Board student representatives. During the forum, productive discussions covered various perspectives and action items, which will be presented to the Academic Board and its committees. 

The base rate for HDR stipends does not currently reflect the cost of living in Brisbane, and also does not competitively align with other Go8 universities. Currently, the rate is the lowest amongst the Go8 universities, presenting a competitive disadvantage for UQ. The UQ Union, in collaboration with UQ APS inc., HDR leaders, the graduate school, and relevant Academic Operating Units (AOU), have been working to competitively increase the stipend for UQ HDR scholars. 


In Week 4 of the semester, we collaborated with UQ APS (Association of Postgraduate Students) and hosted a Volunteer Mixer to welcome new volunteers and talk more about the benefits of the UQU Volunteer program and the UQ APS Ambassador program. With over 50 attendees attending this event, it was a great opportunity to welcome those who are involved in our volunteer programs but also thank them so far for their contributions in being involved and engaged with our UQ Union initiatives and being part of the UQ Union community.

We are looking forward to continuing to foster a sense of community within the volunteer community and hopefully hosting more events to continue thanking and supporting our volunteers.

Placement Bursaries and placement poverty

Over the last month, we opened applications for the UQU Placement Bursary – an important initiative that the UQU Student Rights Collective does to provide financial support to those going on placement who may experience financial hardship and stress due to their unpaid placement. Applications for the placement bursary program have now closed and we recently reviewed over 90 applications with Student Advocacy and Support (SAS) for this bursary program and are currently in the process of letting those who applied the outcome of their applications.  

We have been in contact with Students Against Placement Poverty (SAPP) QLD and have met with them to discuss how the UQ Union Student Rights Collective can be more involved within their campaign to ensure an end to unpaid placements and to address the issue of poverty on placement. Poverty on placement is an issue that is impacting many students who are going on placement as part of their studies and is an issue that was mentioned in the University Accords, and we are intending to continue to advocate on this issue to ensure that no student continues to experience financial stress whilst they complete their placement as part of their studies.  We continue to be in discussions with SAPP QLD and are currently discussing about the possibility of being involved with the National Week of Action that is being planned for April to put pressure on the Federal Government to act and ensure an end to placement poverty.  

End Student Poverty & addressing the cost of living crisis

During O-Week, the Student Rights Department launched our Cost of Living Survey, seeking input from UQ students about their experiences with cost of living and how it is impacting them as a student. On both Market Day and the first two weeks of the semester, we had stalls within the Union Complex and engaged with the UQ student community to talk more about their experiences with the cost of living crisis, but also why it matters to address these issues.

Over this period, we received 875 responses to the survey. These responses will now be used to develop a submission to the Federal Senate cost of living inquiry that is occurring right now, and will also be used to compile a report to help highlight how significant of an issue student experiences with cost of living are at UQ.  

Over the last month, we also had Ngaire (NUS President) visit and help support our stall at Market Day to promote the NUS End Student Poverty campaign and worked with Frankie, who is the NUS Campaigns Officer and collaborated with them in launching the End Student Poverty campaign at UQ. We continue to engage with Frankie and the NUS about the End Student Poverty campaign and are keen to work with them in the lead up to the national week of action that will be occurring in April in the lead up to the federal budget.

We spoke with students at Market Day around their experiences with the cost of living crisis, joined by National Union of Students (NUS) President Ngaire.


Jeryn Chang & Jordy Duffey  

Vice Presidents (UQU Student Rights) 

Email: [email protected]

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