Monash U VC warns: we must not “cower in fear on our island”

Margaret Gardner says Australians need to “have more choices of what we can do and where we can go”

Throughout the pandemic VCs and peak uni lobbies have been careful to never look like they were putting their own interests first, backing public health official advice on lock-downs and borders.

Monash U VC Margaret Gardner still is, telling staff Friday the university, “remains committed to maintaining as much open on-campus education and research as is permitted by health and safety requirements.”

But Professor Gardner also argues that Australia now needs “to put ourselves in a situation where we have more choices of what we can do and where we can go – not less.”

“We should live the benefits of reaching out beyond our boundaries, of being an open, diverse and tolerant society – not cower in fear on our island, seeking comfort in our isolation,” she wrote.

“Our Australian students do not have a better education from being separated from the perspectives and experiences of other nations and cultures – or seeing them through a zoom darkly. Our academics and professional staff cannot develop and create in a world where the opportunity to observe is restricted.”

But while she does not mention international student fees, she does state “we should be able to welcome all our students back to our campuses to meet with their teachers and supervisors and with each other. We should be able to welcome visitors from other nations to our campuses.” The emphasis on all is her’s.

And as Victoria was locked-down for a fourth time she suggested, “we have learnt much about what to do – and we know that we can prevent outbreaks that threaten our health and wellbeing with higher levels of vaccination and effective quarantine.”