from the Chair and the Chief Executive

Margaret Gardner.jpg Catriona Jackson.jpg









Arrivals and departures are often moments for reflection. 

That's clear in several of the pieces we've commissioned for this latest HIGHER ED.ITION. 

Penning their first opinion pieces for the sector, new Education Minister Dan Tehan and new Shadow Assistant Minister for Universities and Equality Louise Pratt set out their top-of-mind issues and respective priorities. 

Minister Tehan says we need to ensure more Australians from the regions get the wide-ranging benefits of a university education and points out the big country/city divide in degree attainment. He writes that every Australian—whether from the regions or the cities—should have the same educational opportunities

Senator Pratt writes that the demand-driven system of uncapped university places unlocked opportunity for students in the outer suburbs and the regions, and from disadvantaged backgrounds. She writes that the current funding freeze ‘put the brake on enrolment growth for these groups, regional, outer suburban areas and among poorer students’

As she prepares to hand over the reins at Deakin next May, Professor Jane den Hollander has shared some reflections on strategy, her leadership approach and the big picture vision that has transformed her university. As is her way, it’s a typically generous piece from a remarkable leader and leadership mentor to many in our sector. 

There has been significant public reflection in recent months also on the financial circumstances of the nation’s university students – with the release of the 2017 Universities Australia Student Finances Survey. UA Chair Professor Margaret Gardner unpacks these findings – as one in seven students say they regularly go without food or other essentials because they cannot afford them. And National Union of Students President Mark Pace shares a first-hand account of students living on the poverty line.

In this HIGHER ED.ITION, UA Chief Executive Catriona Jackson also reflects on the fact that a strong graduate earnings premium remains for younger graduates – even after a decade-long expansion of access to university to many more Australians

And we’ve highlighted some of the inspiring international students who choose to study in Australia through our #1inHalfaMillion campaign. Our video campaign gives new insight into why 540,000 international students chose Australia this year — including the quality of our education, the friendliness of the welcome from locals, our beautiful environment and relaxed lifestyle. 

We hope you enjoy this edition.

Until next time,
Professor Margaret Gardner and Catriona Jackson
Chair and Chief Executive
Universities Australia


june // 2015



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One in half a million - why international students study in Australia
More than 540,000 international students now choose to study in Australia. Educating some of the world’s best and brightest talent in Australia brings in $32 billion for our national economy and supports more than 130,000 Australian jobs.
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Regions apart: why higher education is critical to regional Australia
Every Australian should benefit from the same educational opportunities, no matter where they live.
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Expanded university access is fundamental to Australia’s prosperity
I am excited to be given an opportunity to serve as Labor’s Shadow Assistant Minister for Universities and to work with Australia’s world-leading university sector.
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The elements of strategy — listen, lead, and have a narrative as well as a plan
It’s a strange feeling hearing the announcement of your successor splashed across the media, and it caused me to reflect a little on what and where Deakin is in the world at this pivot in the leadership of the university.
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Uni grads' earning edge remains
Sometimes it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. A few headlines on news stories in the last month about graduate earnings are a case in point.
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The reality for students who live below the poverty line
It’s the personal accounts of students living in poverty that bring the reality home. Among the scores of data and stories collected by the 2017 Universities Australia Student Finances Survey, ultimately it was their own words that spoke the loudest.
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What it’s like to be a student on the poverty line
One of my memories as a child was walking through Adelaide University with my family on open day.
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Brains add brawn to national prosperity: record international student enrolments
Australia’s growth in international education has set another new record, with more than 548,000 overseas students studying here in the latest official numbers from April.
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Why the right research infrastructure will deliver jobs and innovation
Access to world-class equipment and facilities is critical to keeping Australia at the forefront of advanced science, research and innovation in an increasingly competitive global environment.
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A life of learning: something all Australians deserve
Labor wants every Australian to get a great education. Everyone should have the opportunity to go to university or TAFE, regardless of postcode or income, if they have the inclination and the aptitude.
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Gazing at the stars will give us a bright future
Last month a group of politicians, academics, and business leaders gathered at Curtin University to celebrate the launch of Phase II of the Murchison Widefield Array.
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In his 1964 Nobel Lecture, physicist Nikolai Basov described two distinct trends in the development of modern physics. The first pursues a theory to explain contradictions and irregularities: the second sets out to build new physical devices, and may discover new insights along the way.
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An uncapped university system means many more opportunities
I want to tell you the story of two remarkable women. Similar to a growing number of Australians, Melissa Schenck thought she would never have the security of a career. Across two decades, she went from one casual job to the next while rearing five children.
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A fact that every young Australian and their parents need to know
If there was anything you could do to get a job faster, I'm sure we would all want to know about it.
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Funding freeze an economic own-goal
The Government’s mid-year Budget backdoor cuts to university funding were meant to be about repairing the nation’s bottom line.
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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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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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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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