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Exploring the Future of Higher Education

A small, invited group of university leaders and education policy professionals, along with members of the leadership group of the Global Foundation, met to discuss the future of higher education in Australia in an online session hosted by The Global Foundation on Tuesday 14 November 2023. The meeting took place against the backdrop of the Australian Government’s ongoing higher education review, also known as the Australian Universities Accord, and formed part of the Global Foundation’s ‘Australian Transformation’ series of discussions.

Key speakers included Professor Sir Edward Byrne AC, Chairman of the Australian Advisory Council of the Global Foundation, former President and Vice Chancellor of Monash University and former Principal of King’s College London; Rt Hon Charles Clarke, Visiting Professor in Social and Educational Futures and former UK Education Secretary of State; and Mr Ben Rimmer, Deputy Secretary, Higher Education, Research and International, Australian Government Department of Education.

The Global Foundation welcomed several distinguished contributors from the Australian university sector at the meeting, as well as Dr Mark Cutifani and Ms Sharan Burrow AC, Chair and Deputy Chair of the Global Advisory Council. The session was moderated by Mr Steve Howard, Secretary General.

Participants agreed that universities should be key contributors to responding to the rapid changes and challenges facing the globe. Universities contribute in the following ways:

  • Producing research to understand and interpret the changes
  • Proposing approaches and solutions
  • Educating and training young people to address change
  • Providing a framework for discussion of change by fostering a well-educated community.

Participants also identified competing discourses about higher education in Australia and how these fit into the wider context of anti-intellectualism, concerns about inequity, and changing expectations of universities.

A full report of the meeting is available below.