Ian Anderson started the year as PVC Engagement at the University of Melbourne but in February agreed to move to Prime Minister and Cabinet as deputy secretary of indigenous affairs. This made the Palawa man, from northwest Tasmania, from the most senior indigenous Australian in the Australian public service where he is charged with implementing the Closing the Gap agenda.
The lot of an assistant minister is unrewarding and explosive – doing the difficult jobs the portfolio minister does not care for and copping unfair flack for decisions they did not make. In the aftermath of the VET FEE HELP debacle the assistant minister for training dealt with plenty of both. All of which she handled well. Private trainers do not love the government’s new private provider student loan scheme, but it isn’t the stuff of bad headlines and while the training system is still a mess Ms Andrews is regularly seen to be doing working on it.
Back in 2015 Professor Baldry was acting dean of arts at UNSW. She gave that up to become “academic lead for equity and diversity”. By March this year she had sufficiently impressed her colleagues to be chair of the university’s diversity, equity and inclusion board and in July she became DVC Inclusion and Diversity. Equity is a big deal at UNSW, “we have set ambitious objectives,” says Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs.
The name of the University of Queensland undergraduate probably rings no bells but if you want to improve your carillon’s efficiency she is a woman to talk to. Ms Baldwin won the Commonwealth Treasury’s student essay completion for a paper on productivity. There are far too many old blokes, and young blokes practising to be aged running economic policy and commentary – the more young women in the mix the better.
Cultural anthropologist and digital futurist Genevieve Bell joined ANU from Intel this year and is charged with driving research into how artificial intelligence will shape the way we live soon. She has charge of the joint ANU-CSIRO Autonomy, Agency, and Assurance Institute.
Every galah in the policy pet shot (to paraphrase some bloke called Keating) talks about the need for universities and industry to engage – Binks does something about it daily. Taking over as head of the Business Higher Education Roundtable in February Dr Binks is keen on expanding BHERT into new fields, such as artificial intelligence, health and medicine to match its existing work with established industries including agriculture, minerals and energy. He is well-placed to do it, Binks has a PhD in astro-physics and a long career in research roles for major companies.
The minister had big policy wins this year, in childcare, schools, ending the VET student funding debacle he inherited and in pushing universities towards transparency in undergraduate entry scores. Certainly, he failed to get the parliamentary numbers for a (relatively) modest funding reduction and university accountability -his plan for performance based metrics was opposed as strongly as his budget cut, but he kept calm and regrouped for another go. The unflappable minister will adjust and try again.
Absolutely-optimistic, endlessly-energetic, CQU’s VC could write the book on working to grow what one’s got. He has restored the university’s finances and expanded into new catchments, notably James Cook U’s Cairns and Townsville heartlands – while looking to his region’s needs for research expansion. Critics say it is all very well while the cash flows but close observers remember the state of the books when he arrived and the way he convinced his community to accept cuts then on the promise of future growth, which he has largely delivered.
If patience is indeed a virtue Macquarie University’s dean of business bears an uncommon resemblance to a saint. Arriving at the start of the year, he consulted his colleagues into exhaustion, first on what they thought of the sprawling structure of faculty, management school and applied finance centre and then what they wanted to do about it. He did not hide his preference for one unified operation but he certainly made his case and listened to its opponents. At year end he appears to have taken his team with him.
Tracey Bretag (University of South Australia) is the keeper of credibility for university qualifications, with her colleague Rowena Harper, a global expert on “contract cheating” (plagiarism, exam fraud, essay mills and the like) and what universities and students can do about it. AsPro Bretag’s guide, for the Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency, sets out 22 practical measures. Cheaters are always with us, fortunately now there is this essential handbook.
A J Brown
This Griffith University academic keeps his head down, a discretion which may come with being an expert on whistleblowing and how to protect it. But he does vital work on ways to encourage and protect the people who stand-up when they need to. His work was acknowledged this year by Transparency International, who invited him on to the board and by the federal government who appointed him to an expert group on whistleblower protection. Think this has little do with higher education? In July, he and Sandra Lawrence surveyed Australian industry and found universities were the worst group for dealing with whistleblowers.