The role of postgraduate students at ANU is one that Arjuna Mohottala knows well.
Unlike most other universities, postgraduate students represent about half of the total student population at ANU. Yet their representative body—the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA)—received less than half of the funding of the undergraduate equivalent. That was until Arjuna stepped in.
As a passionate advocate of postgraduate research and study, in 2013 Arjuna led a team that drafted PARSA’s budget, which requested an almost 100 per cent funding increase to put it on par with the ANU Students’ Association. It was accepted.
Wherever PARSA has been, Arjuna has been behind it. He has driven an increase in the profile of the association, including finding a new, more visible office space for PARSA and introducing a number of events, including collaborative events with the Tjabal Centre during NAIDOC Week.
He has been an avid supporter of enhancing the student experience, especially for those postgraduate students living off campus and those with dependants.
While raising the profile of postgraduate activities on campus, Arjuna held the position of Treasurer for the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations. At ANU, he has also held positions on the University Council, Academic Board and the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific Education and Research committees.
His passion for helping others has developed throughout his life. Between 2004 and 2009, Arjuna held several positions with the Rotary Club in his native country, Sri Lanka.
All of this has not detracted from his studies. Within a few months of starting his PhD, Arjuna presented at the 2013 Crawford PhD Conference, an appearance normally reserved for final year PhD students. In 2014, Arjuna chaired the Crawford PhD Conference.
In July 2014, on the merit of his Masters results and PhD research proposal, Arjuna became the inaugural holder of the Peter Kenyon Memorial Postgraduate Scholarship, which is awarded by the Economic Society of Australia.