from the Chair and the Chief Executive

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The future is always on our minds – but especially as we bring you this first instalment of HIGHER ED.ITION for 2018. 

In a world being transformed at speed, we rely on quality thinking to anticipate – and stay ahead of – seismic shifts across our economies and societies. 

That's why, in this bumper post-conference edition, we've brought together ideas from some of the world's best thinkers on the future of work, education, research, global trade and diplomacy. 

The future of access to university education – and the sector's call to keep open the doors of opportunity for Australians – was a central theme in our Chair's recent National Press Club address. 

And the future of university partnerships is front and centre in UA's latest publication, Clever Collaborations. This practical guide makes it easier for businesses to find the 'front door' into each university and outlines the types of collaborations they can explore

The future of work – and how higher education can prepare us for it – is considered by the Aspen Institute's Future of Work Initiative co-chair Bruce Reed. In the robot era, he says "universities will be the Jedi masters who teach us to look inward for the strengths we need to survive and adapt". And he notes that universities hone skills that are hardest to automate: critical thinking, curiosity and judgment

The future of research, as Dame Anne Glover notes, will rely on us speaking up for knowledge and staying at the cutting edge, because if we stand still, we will be overtaken. "If you don’t seize opportunities, if you are not quick on your feet, someone else will be there before you," she warns. 

The future of technology won't be all dystopian downside, says AI expert Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte. He forecasts a loss of some jobs that are predictable, repeatable or analytic, but a growing number of jobs that require technical, creative and social skills

The future of our universities themselves will be characterised by continuing innovation, predicts Australia's Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, with a witty conjuring of a fictional board game called ‘Faculty’ in which the wild cards are policy decisions. 

And the future of innovation relies on the vital role of our universities and research system to secure Australia’s future prosperity, notes Innovation and Science Australia Chair Bill Ferris. 

The future of Australia's global ties will be shaped by our success in international education – a point we make in a video series to mark a new milestone in the growth of our international student numbers

We also bring you insights from leading philanthropists on how to pitch university projects to donors – such as research that has helped to prevent women dying after childbirth in some of Australia’s poorest neighbouring countries

And, marking the anniversary of the Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy launch, we bring you insights from National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association President Sharlene Leroy-Dyer about the importance of a university education to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities

Until next time, 

Professor Margaret Gardner and Belinda Robinson
Chair and Chief Executive
Universities Australia


june // 2015



Australia reaches new international student milestone
Australia has welcomed more than half a million international students over the past year, helping to deepen our ties with the world.
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Keep open the doors of opportunity
When Australia decided in 2009 to uncap university places, educational opportunity was to be matched to the knowledge demands of the future. It was a bold advance – and one supported by both sides of politics.
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The Future of Work and Learning
The future of work is top of mind not just in Australia and the US but throughout the world. For many of us, the future seems to offer a dazzling array of choices. We can decide when to work, we don’t have to dress up for work and we don’t even have to show up for work.
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Winning the game of faculty
I recently came across a board game called Power Grid. It’s like Monopoly for electricity: each player represents an energy company that bids for power plants, and then competes to supply the market.
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Research in the age of Brexit and the opportunities for Australia
The value of knowledge is hard to narrow down and talk about coherently. Whether that might be putting up satellites, better understanding our oceans, or how we can better live within our environment.
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Dispelling Dystopia: why many jobs will change rather than disappear
I’ve spent most of my life building robots and studying Artificial Intelligence (AI). And I feel it's time to dispel some myths about AI, the future workforce and the rise of technology in our lives.
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Australia 2030: the role of universities in our economic and social future
In January 2018 the Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) Board released our report to Government entitled Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation. The report includes 30 recommendations to Government aimed at strengthening Australia’s innovation performance and put our nation into the international top-tier by 2030.
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Genuine partnerships: practical tips to build university philanthropy
University philanthropy can profoundly enhance our impact in the world. It now supports a wide array of additional activities at Australian universities – from life-changing scholarships through to critical funds for research to cure disease and improve our quality of life.
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The best Keep It Clever research stories of 2017
Over the course of this year, there have been literally hundreds of new research breakthroughs, discoveries and advances by Australian universities.
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The changing world of work: preparing uni grads for an unpredictable future
Another academic year over. Another 333,000 university students who have completed their studies and are headed into the world of work. And what does their future hold?
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Night thoughts: why expertise still matters to us all
I could say that almost nothing keeps me awake at night because in truth I sleep very soundly. But, perhaps, in the spirit of the program, I can say a number of things keep me awake at night.
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Q&A with Council of International Students Australia
International education makes a major contribution to Australia’s economy and society. Not only is it the nation’s third largest export – generating income of $28 billion a year – but it’s also a powerful contributor to our connections and soft diplomacy across the world.
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2017: The higher education year in review
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year in higher education in Australia. Universities Australia has led a vast program of work on behalf of the sector – driving advocacy on a wide array of issues affecting our members.
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Q&A with Universities Australia Executive Women's Group
The lack of women in leadership roles is an issue across many industries and sectors – from top-listed companies to the not-for-profit sector.
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The importance of both universities and TAFE
It is a mistake to talk down the value of universities in a populist attempt to pit the higher education and vocational education sectors against each other.
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To thrive in the future, our clever country must back its universities
In the present environment, when university leaders speak about university funding, cries of self-interest spring up from some quarters of the political arena and beyond.
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Averting a quiet catastrophe – why changes to enabling pathways would have been a mistake
Over the past months there has been a concerted focus by universities across Australia to highlight the potential of the Government’s higher education package to derail Australia’s productivity and economic growth agenda.
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Flexibility the key to uni study for people whose jobs are changing rapidly
The Australian economy is currently transforming. We are moving away from a resource-based economy while simultaneously dealing with the automation of many tasks previously performed by people.
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Universities in a Next Gen World – UA Higher Education Conference wrap-up
The Universities Australia Higher Education Conference was held in March with a record turnout of almost 1000 delegates.
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Equipping Australia to manage economic transition: the missing elements in Budget 2017
Federal Budgets can be as noteworthy for what they do not include as for what they do. The Budget handed down by Treasurer Scott Morrison on 9 May is no exception.
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At the heart of the community: revitalising regions through higher education
The pathways to socioeconomic improvement in a post-industrial age are difficult to predict.
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Minds rubbing on minds: Why people are at the heart of innovation
I’ve spent two decades talking about innovation, and often it feels like Groundhog Day.
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We need to tell the success stories in university-industry collaboration
During 30 years of involvement with Australian research, I have heard countless gloomy tales of low rates of research-industry engagement, and of missed opportunities to translate research into outcomes for society.
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Reflecting the long story of Australia in our universities
Reflecting the long story of Australia in our universities
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Q&A with Professor Barney Glover – chair Universities Australia
Q&A with Professor Barney Glover – chair Universities Australia
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How international education is advancing Australia’s interests
In early February, the latest trade figures confirmed that Australia’s international education exports remain on the rise.
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We can’t afford to lose the Education Investment Fund
A decade ago, it was hard to keep local health workers in the central Queensland city of Rockhampton.
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Our world-class research helps build a stronger future
During a round of golf on a visit to Australia in 1963, Queen Elizabeth II caught the attention of journalists. They noticed that the Queen, unlike all the other players on Royal Canberra Golf Course that day, wasn’t covered in flies.
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Q&A with Austrade Chief Executive Professor Stephanie Fahey
She should know, she use to help run one. The first female head of Austrade has experience in education, as well as in the commercial world, equipping her to understand how education and research underpins Australia’s trade mission.
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Equity is no longer an option – it’s an imperative
Seismic shifts in our economy and our society are here. Our globalised economy has seen technology disrupt jobs, industries and markets.
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Be careful what you wish for: why the market-based demand driven system is better than the alternatives.
From time to time over the past few years, we’ve heard the occasional call to end the demand driven system for university places.
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Is the TEF good public policy? Probably not.
The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in the United Kingdom seeks to elevate the status of teaching and learning in higher education and provide better information to prospective students.
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Higher Education Conference: Gen Next 2017
What does the next generation of university students want from their degree? How can universities adapt to changing expectations?
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2016: The Year in Review
It’s been a busy year in higher education in Australia. Universities Australia has driven a bumper program of work on behalf of the sector – spearheading advocacy on a vast number of issues that affect our members.
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Going viral: promoting the contribution of universities in a digital age
It’s a recurring question for universities: how to communicate the value of what we do?
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Thinking about innovation: why basic research matters
Recently the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, spent time at the California University of Technology (Caltech.) There he discovered “phenomenal research underway” to improve health, find new sources of energy, and make the world a better place.
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A Fine Romance: Australian university engagement with China
In drawing the outlines of engagement between Australian and Chinese universities, one must paint with a very broad brush.
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Higher education by numbers
The higher education system in Australia is a major contributor to economic prosperity and social cohesion. Australia’s universities now have more than 1.3 million students and 120,000 staff across nearly 200 campuses.
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The rise of university philanthropy in Australia
Philanthropic support for higher education in Australia and New Zealand is on the rise. This is a heartening trend, and in many ways, 2015 was a particularly outstanding year for universities building a culture of philanthropy.
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