The Postgraduate Students’ Association (PGSA) at Victoria University was formed in 1994 by a committed group of postgraduate students with a focus on providing services to postgraduate students not already provided by the University.
The first Executive Assistant of the PGSA was Trevor Landers, who worked in an entirely voluntarily capacity as at this time, as the PGSA had no funding or institutional recognition. A delegation, including Trevor, Peter Howland and Vicki Culling met with Alastair Shaw (then President of VUWSA) and argued for a devolution of the quantum which postgraduates paid. Vice-Chancellor Les Holborrow and the Senior Management Team needed convincing. Through discussions came the Minimum Resource Agreement, which the PGSA and Victoria still discuss and adhere to today. The delegation demanded rights for postgraduate students and argued that postgraduate students bring in the majority of the University’s income.
The mission and values of the PGSA have not changed drastically from its early beginnings: to get support and resources for postgraduates students, and encourage the University to take postgraduate students seriously and to treat them well.
Past PGSA Executives have participated in international forums on postgraduate issues and management of a postgraduate voice. In August 1997, Trevor Landers attended the World Postgraduate Association Conference in Budapest, where the Budapest Declaration was issued and a World Postgraduate Body established, achieved without access to external funding. Once external funding was secured and institutionalised, the foundation of the PGSA was determined.
In 1997 Dennis and Trevor Landers established the Landers Award in order to recognise individuals who provide outstanding work which foster the ethos and the objectives of the PGSA, or who have improved the experience of the postgraduate student body. This was in recognition that in the informal beginnings of the PGSA there were people working tirelessly to support postgraduate students. The Landers Postgraduate Award was an attempt to recognise those who had gone before (operating with their own personal resources) and to recognise those who would come after. The motivations were also partly in response to the closure of the Graduate Students Office.
In 1998 the PGSA as we know it now became established and sustainable, thanks to the financial support from VUWSA and the University, and was formally recognised as a representative student association by VUWSA. We operate as an autonomous association for and on behalf of postgraduate students in partnership with VUWSA. The PGSA is the representative body of all postgraduate students, providing representation and services for all postgraduates enrolled at Victoria. Postgraduate students comprise roughly 20% of students at Victoria and are defined as students who are enrolled at Honours level or above (with the exception of Law, for which Honours is included as an undergraduate course), including graduate diploma students.
The current Constitution of the Victoria University of Wellington Postgraduate Students’ Association Inc was ratified at the AGM on 6 October 2014.