“Disruptive times such as these require thoughtful, clear leadership,” Monash University declares, announcing its new Monash Commission, which is charged with “fuelling national discussion and policy reform.” The Commission’s first subject will be post compulsory education.
“Instead of waiting for change to happen, Monash University is focusing on the changes Australians want to see, and harnessing the expertise of leaders from enterprise, education and the community to advance with and through innovation, rather than be led by it,” Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner says.
In addition to Professor Gardner, the commissioners for the first inquiry are corporate director and mandarin Elizabeth Proust as chair. She is joined by former vice chancellor and chief scientist Ian Chubb, public sector executive Marie Persson, financial and professional services specialist Mette Schepers, veteran university (including UNSW) leader Rory Hume and former UK vc Nigel Thrift.
“We are seeking to design policy options that make a substantive contribution to addressing key challenges for Australia and our region and to shape a vision for the future …Systemic change will come only by presenting compelling evidence, as well as ideas, to government and community,” Professor Gardner says.
The Vice Chancellor signaled this strategy in January, telling CMM, instead of “reactive change on the basis of a funding cut” there must be an “evidence-based, research-based discussion, “not an exchange of op eds,” (CMM January16). It turns out to be a prescient plan. With the political winds swinging towards a focus on training in the post-school education mix, and undoubtedly more money, for VET the university sector will need to do more than complain about funding if it is to make its case with the community. However, Professor Gardner has to walk a fine policy-line lest people mistake which of her three hats she wears when speaking out on issues, that of a Group of Eight VC, president of Universities Australia or now founder of a new peak policy group.