Universities Australia will begin the search for a new Chief Executive following Belinda Robinson’s decision not to renew her contract when it expires next year.
Universities Australia Chair, Professor Margaret Gardner, paid tribute to Ms Robinson and the role she has played in transforming the university sector’s peak body into one of the country’s pre-eminent representative organisations.
“Belinda has achieved a great deal on behalf of Australia’s universities since her appointment as Chief Executive in October 2011 and we will be very sorry to see her go,” Professor Gardner said.
“In applying her extensive experience in government relations, stakeholder management and engagement, public policy development and strategic political advocacy, Belinda will leave UA with much to be proud of.”
“Belinda is highly respected by UA members and the many stakeholders she has worked with over the past six years,” Professor Gardner said.
“Belinda has led a team that manages a diverse and extensive work program that delivers outcomes of a consistently high quality."
“These past six years have produced many significant funding and policy challenges for higher education that have called for persistent and skilful university advocacy,” said Professor Gardner.
Amongst her many achievements, Ms Robinson has advocated successfully against three rounds of major funding cuts to the sector and a proposal to introduce a cap on tax-deductable self-education expenses for those wishing to invest in their own future. She led the world’s first whole-of-sector approach to addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment in student communities, overseen the development of the sector’s Indigenous Strategy and, most recently, the reversal of unhelpful changes proposed to visa conditions.
“Significantly she has been relentless in profiling the contribution that universities make to Australia’s well-being, including by spearheading the sector’s public awareness campaign to a point where almost 50,000 supporters stand ready to defend Australia’s universities.”
Professor Gardner said the UA Board would commence a search process to seek an executive of the highest calibre to succeed Ms Robinson and build on her legacy.
Ms Robinson said after an intense six years as Chief Executive of UA, the time was right to begin to explore new opportunities.
“A number of key strategic goals have been achieved so it feels like the right time to begin the process of transitioning UA to its next stage and new leadership."
“As the year draws to a close, it is also an opportunity to express my deep gratitude for every experience and challenge that this extraordinary sector has given me."
"It’s been, and continues to be, a great privilege to work with some of the greatest minds in the country and to make a contribution to the greatest of causes."
“Education and research are the cornerstones of national success. Our universities will be the difference between success and failure as Australia navigates its way into an uncertain future,” she said.
“I have had the great fortune to work with four wonderful Chairs, Professors Glyn Davis, Sandra Harding, Barney Glover and Margaret Gardner, who have each provided strong and visionary leadership through some very challenging times. I thank them, the UA Board and all our members for their generosity and the unrelenting support shown to me and my team," Ms Robinson said.
“I am also so very fortunate to have the best team possible working with me in prosecuting our demanding agenda.”
“My intention is to talk widely with friends and colleagues before deciding my next step – and to take the time to find the right fit. In the meantime, there is much to do with a number of pressing issues to be addressed, including the current policy stalemate, while ensuring a smooth transition to new leadership,” Ms Robinson said.
“While we will be sorry to see Belinda go, we wish her the very best and know that she will continue to make a significant impact and contribution in whatever she does,” Professor Gardner said.