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Student story

Sanjaya Kuruppu

20 July 2023

"Having studied and worked at UC, I have a wide range of experience and an extensive network..."


“Commerce has always been interesting to me,” Sanjaya says. “I was inspired to get into Commerce from a young age by my father because of the potential to have a wide impact on practice and ‘the way the world worked’.”

As such, choosing to study Commerce at UC was an easy decision for Sanjaya.

“Canterbury was where all of my friends went. It was the obvious choice with a good reputation and recognition throughout New Zealand. Having seen a number of Universities around the world, I am so glad that I studied at Canterbury. We have so many things that make the student experience exceptional. Our facilities, teaching and learning spaces, as well as the opportunities to socialise on campus are second to none. We have a beautiful campus with many different disciplines contained in one spot – making friends with diverse backgrounds was so easy compared to other university campuses which are dotted all over the place.”

Sanjaya made the most of his time at UC. During his undergraduate years, Sanjaya was named 1st in Class for two different courses (during first and third years) and became an active member of AIESEC Canterbury, a student leadership organisation that offers international exchanges.

During his postgraduate years, Sanjaya became the President of AIESEC Canterbury, also becoming an Assistant Lecturer in Accounting for first and second year courses as well as getting to supervise honours research students.

The contacts and support he received at UC has proven invaluable for Sanjaya as he pursued PhD research at the University of South Australia under the Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship.

“Without my time at UC I would not have done sustainability research full stop, nor would I probably have had the opportunity to network with many illustrious Professors and researchers around the world. Postgraduate study opened my eyes to things I had taken for granted before. It was a wonderful experience to me, one that has been transformative and continues to challenge me.”

Sanjaya’s research investigated non-governmental organisations and their accountability in Sri Lanka, his home country. This work enabled him to win travel grants to conduct research in Sri Lanka and visit Professors in the UK.

“International aid is a complex issue and the intervention of non-governmental organisations is being increasingly scrutinised as part of Sri Lanka’s national development framework. Ultimately, my research hoped to understand how change within NGO’s is driven by external and internal factors, and how these factors affect the way relationships are maintained and managed.”

Since completing his PhD, Sanjaya has won a CPA Australia Research Grant and published several research articles. He is now a Lecturer in Accounting with the University of South Australia, and is on the Finance Committee for a not-for-profit organisation.

His next ambition is working towards his CIMA qualification, and Sanjaya is confident that his continued work in academia will pave the way to a successful career in a variety of different areas.

“I strongly believe that academic research should have practical applicability. Having studied and worked at UC and taken on a PhD full time, I have a wide range of experience and an extensive network. The skills and experience I have built up through my postgraduate study lend themselves to working in a number of different environments, such as is in the private and public sector on issues of accountability and sustainability.

“So far my work and research has given me the privilege and space to think, to question and to critique.”

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