An update from the GSA President: August 2023

It’s already August…  

Welcome back to my deep dive into all things GSA. 

In exciting news, I have finally passed my Pre-Confirmation for my PhD. For all of my fellow graduate researchers grinding away, I wish you good luck with all of your milestones! 

Speaking of fellow PhD Candidates: 

As part of their research, a fellow PhD Candidate, Andrew, is currently developing a well-being program for young adults called Life Crafting, and is looking for diverse backgrounds who might be interested in helping design the program.   

Currently, they are co-designing the program, and is gathering feedback from young people on what they might like to see in the program and how they would like it delivered.  

To do this, they’re organising online focus groups where people can share their thoughts on the program. The focus groups should run for roughly 45-60 minutes.   

 If you’re interested check it out here ->    

Strategic Planning 

This year the GSA will be reviewing our Strategic Plan, and developing a new 2025-2030 strategy to guide GSA into a new era. A strategic plan is a high-level document which outlines the vision, goals and objectives for an organization. GSA’s current strategic plan is separated into Representation, Organisation Sustainability, Engaged and Healthy Communities, Academic Excellence and Transition to Work. The various areas of the strategic plan outline what the previous GSA Board’s (formerly GSA Council) vision for the future was. However, over time, and especially after a pandemic, the direction of many organisations has altered. 

In light of this, and with the current strategic plan coming to an end, the GSA Board is undertaking a review of the current Strategic Plan. Many parts of the current plan have been actioned, and its mark has been left on our great organization. The current plan has seen GSA redefine its place in the University Community, especially with regards to the merger of the GSA Advocacy Service into the UMSU Advocacy Service. This occurred in the early 2010’s and drastically altered the business model of GSA, and sees UMSU receive dedicated SSAF funding for the explicit delivery of the UMSU Advocacy Service. 

The current strategic plan has seen GSA begin delivering unique, tailored services to match the tailored courses that Graduate Students undertake. This is especially important for our members, as generalised services often do not meet their unique needs. 

The major outcome which was delivered was our new constitution, which has drastically reshaped the GSA’s operations and governance. This tailored constitution takes inspiration from the Council models used by many post-graduate organisations yet brings in the professional board to complement the industry focussed nature of our graduate students and their desire for good governance practices.  

The remainder of my Presidential term will be spent preparing our new strategic plan. My vision for the next 5 years of GSA is to define GSA’s place in the University, and provide tailored programs that integrate more seamlessly into graduate studies. Likewise, I want to set clear roadmaps and checkpoints for each component of the plan, so that new Board members and managers will more easily be able to understand where the organization is headed and how to measure outcomes. 

With the establishment of our new working groups for Grad Groups, International Graduate Student Services, Advocacy Strategy, our new Strategic Plan and finally, our Constitution. This will be a key period for GSA in determining how to optimise GSA’s services for the benefit of the members. 

This year there will be many exciting opportunities to get involved at GSA. If you are interested in becoming a graduate student leader, check out our student vacancies page regularly for opportunities. 

Finally, if you have any questions or issues, please email me at 

Jesse Gardner-Russell