CMM’s selection of achievers this year

In a year where there were no easy wins, people did well by getting through the grind. But some stood out – here’s CMM’s selection (eccentric, me?) of some of the many who made a difference. This list could be five times as long and still just be a start.

Achievers: A-B

Ian Anderson

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.

 Karen Andrews

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.

 Eileen Baldry

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.

Elizabeth Baldwin

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.

Genevieve Bell

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.

Peter Binks

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.

Simon Birmingham

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.

Scott Bowman

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.

Stephen Brammer

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

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.

Achievers: C-D

Rod Camm

The best thing about 2017 for the head of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training was that it was not 2016. But as in last year, Mr Camm dealt with the aftershocks of the VET FEE HELP debacle that unjustly tarnished his continuing members and kept explaining the essential role they play in the training system. Always calm, always on message.

Kim Carr

Labor’s innovation spokesman knows, really knows, research and higher education policy – just ask public servants who appear at Senate estimates. He also has a clear vision of post-secondary education and research institutes as the foundations for a prosperous, united Australia, educating and training people of all ages, undertaking pure and applied research, the first leading to the second. He made his case all year – apparently with too much rigour for some on his own side, Labor leader Bill Shorten’s office tried to recall a Carr speech in November.

Nural Cokcetin

The UTS post-doctoral researcher works on honey as a prebiotic for human gut health and as a response to multi-drug resistant super-bugs. In May, she won the Australian heat of the British Council’s Three-Minute Fame Lab (explain your research in 180 seconds) and was runner-up in the Cheltenham Festive world-final the next month. She also gets out and sells her work in a Ted talk and on social media.

Peter Dawkins

Victoria University is not in great financial shape and needs to change– so Vi ce Chancellor Peter Dawkins is changing it. There is a new first-year model that accepts VU starting students are often not ready for academic study, a new research structure designed to focus resources on areas where the university can compete and new courses with industry engagement. CMM has no idea whether the plans will all work but suspects they are the best chance VU has.

Peter Derbyshire

The UWA postgrad had less time for his research on reptiles this year as he stepped up to lead the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations – a time-consuming and cash-poor task (a situation not unknown to postgraduates). But Mr Derbyshire is obviously intent on doing more in the job than pointing out his members do it tough. In July, he made a case for the Commonwealth to fund all coursework masters. “As qualification creep continues there will be a future need to ensure students are supported to obtain the postgraduate qualifications needed for employment,” he said. It was the start of a debate which will roll on, particularly if the government plan for scholarships for professional coursework masters for students to use where they choose, gets up.

John Dewar

That La Trobe University celebrates its 50th anniversary this year in way better shape than it was a decade back is largely due to John Dewar. The vice chancellor’s first plan and related reforms restructured the curriculum, targeted research and cut staff numbers – the last was especially unpopular, generating a blue with the campus union rating well up on the Swinburne (CMM’s scale of industrial conflicts that take years to solve). But it appears to have worked and Professor Dewar’s recently announce second plan is designed for growth, not repair. Particularly impressive is the inclusion of hard numbers, including on revenue – which cautious VCs never do. Last month he offered staff a small (very small,) pay rise tied to student satisfaction as part of the university’s enterprise agreement offer. The union says no, but Professor Dewar has put the principle of student-service on the agenda.

Bernadette Dabsch and Andrew Howells

The University of Newcastle pair has just won the edX learning and teaching award for their MOOC on natural history illustration. It is a great example of the power of the MOOC to extend the reach of specialist skills that will never attract the huge low-teaching cost audiences of mass market law and business courses.

Glyn Davis

Nobody thought Glyn Davis would slow down as he entered the final stretch as University of Melbourne VC but few grasped how hard he would run with new plans and big ideas. This year his team has launched the third great reform of his tenure, with a new teaching model announced. There is also major infrastructure for innovators, to turn the university and surround into a entrepreneur-hub and a life-long learning programme offered via a new school of professional and continuing education. Professor Davis is also making a case for universities as agencies of urban growth and leadership. Glyn Davis found UniMelb an Australian great, he will leave it in October a grand and global institution.


Achievers: F-H

Alan Finkel

Another year, another 12 months of entertaining addresses, erudite advocacy and astute ideas from the Chief Scientist. Dr Finkel is a paragon of policy, with a clear sense of what the nation needs to do in science and the intellectual fire power to make the policies he believes in matter. He is also a great communicator who sets out to the science community how to bring the community with them. Did CMM mention he is a fan?

Dawn Freshwater

Professor Freshwater was announced as vice chancellor of UWA at a tricky time back in January. The success of the restructure she had designed as DVC and with enterprise bargaining imminent staff were restless. But at year’s end peace prevails – the new restructure appears bedded down and the university reached an enterprise agreement with the union. Professor Freshwater now has clean air in her sails.

Margaret Gardner

Monash U’s VC was a fierce advocate for her huge institution but kept a low-ish profile before becoming chair of Universities Australia in May. Since then she has strongly represented all universities in what was a tough six months.

She spoke for all universities in accepting the Human Rights Commission report on sexual assault and harassment on campuses and rejected in detail the government’s proposed funding cuts. But overall, she sought to take control of budget battles by re-casting the debate on what universities exist to do and how they should meet the needs of Australia in the new century.

“It is our mission to seek to define the future, not just for our universities but for that better future to which university education and research is committed; that is our goal. It is the big challenges, the big questions, and the bold goals that should be the focus of a university system on whose strength Australia can rely,” she said in August

John Gilroy

The University of Sydney academic researches disability as it effects Indigenous Australians and is a member of a team that has just won an NHMRC grant to look at culturally legitimate ways to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders recover from traumatic brain injury. It is part of the Yuin (southcoast NSW) man’s broader work on how western medicine and support services can meet the specific disability needs of Indigenous Australians.

Jenny Graves

Professor Graves is the present holder of the prime minister’s prize for science, the first La Trobe University staffer to win the peak award. Following this LT U made her a VC’s fellow. She will continue her work on integrating genomics into animal biology, ecology and conservation.

Greg Hill

The University of the Sunshine Coast VC continues his plan for world-domination one campus at a time. First there was a new USC campus at Gympie, then he picked up USQ Hervey Bay centre followed by a new facility being built at Petrie in Brisbane’s far-north and this year USC took over QUT’s Caboolture facility, not to mention teaching medical science near the flash new Sunshine Coast University Hospital. Professor Hill is also chair of the Regional Universities Network, in which role he is consistent in calling for more resources for his members.

Peter Hoj

The University of Queensland VC and outgoing chair of the Group of Eight need never worry people do not know what he thinks. He has fronted the university’s big build, explaining the benefits it will bring to Brisbane. He has suggested that federal funding cuts could force universities to enrol a higher percentage of international students to fund infrastructure.  And he has warned that the government’s funding proposals could, “give away a national competitive advantage, and weaken the country’s economic resilience in the face of undesirable – but not unthinkable – global jolts. He is also leading a university that is becoming a research power-house, the only institution which could catch UniMelb on the top of the most credible rankings.

Jane den Hollander

If education is Geelong’s best chance of a new-economy base to replace manufacturing then the Deakin U VC is central to the solution. Professor den Hollander runs a tight operation, the university grows stronger on research and has an admirable focus on preparing its students for employment. While all VCs talk about gender equity in pay she has done something about it, investigating D U’s own pay practises and requiring executive staff to learn how to identify their own unconscious biases. And when nobody wanted to take-over the campus at Warrnambool she wanted to offload for want of students, she promised to have another go at making it work, which she is now doing. Deakin also rated number one in the world in the ARWU 2016 and ’17 sports science rankings – which CMM thinks is the first time any Australian university outside the Group of Eight has had global number ones on a major discipline league table.

Edward Holmes

Powerful people queued up to honour the University of Sydney evolutionary biologist this year. The Royal Society made him a foreign fellow. In June, the Australian Research Council conferred a laureate fellowship, with $3.4m for research and in October he won the NSW Premier’s Science and Engineering award for biological science. There’s probably a dukedom somewhere that CMM has missed.

Achievers: J-K

Ian Jacobs, Caroline McMillen and Paul Wellings

The vice chancellors of UNSW, University of Newcastle and University of Wollongong established a triple entente in May. While a formal brief is overdue they said then the NUW alliance would work “to improve the connectivity, productivity and liveability of our regional cities and coastal communities.” They nominated cyber security, smart cities technology, increased higher education access for rural and remote students, and engagement with health service partners as NUW core interests. While there was no talk of a lobbying role a NUW secretariat was suggested, which would have huge potential. NUW represents the resources of entrepreneurial and investing eastern Sydney and its satellites to north and south.

Emma Johnston

Emma “everywhere” Johnston is as ambitious for STEM as she is energetic in its service, and she is very busy indeed. She moved from PVC R to dean of science at UNSW in May in November became president of Science and Technology Australia. “It’s my goal that with the leadership and support of Science Technology Australia, Australia’s governments, private sector, academic institutions and the Australian public will agree on, and pursue, an ambitious, courageous, and dogged agenda to build a new knowledge nation on the foundations of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” she says.

Anne Kelso

There are far more medical researchers than funding to keep them all happy and allocating resources is the most contentious issue in Australian research. But while National Health and Medical Research Council chair Anne Kelso has not made the community happy there is much less complaining about the council’s new scheme announced in May and scheduled to start in 2020 than there was with the previous one. And while Professor Kelso does not have a policy solution to the endemic gender in-balance among chief investigators, she does have a practical one. Among last week’s grant announcements there was money for 34 projects specifically led by women.

Conor King

This year was business as usual for the executive director of the Innovative Research Universities group. He was one of the experts working on the ARC’s new assessment metrics and he made a case against the government’s budget proposals on the numbers not the politics. Mr King is a higher education policy veteran who does not say much publicly, but when he does experts take notes.

Kerri-Lee Krause

Professor Krause made some big calls this year. In May, she told the Fair Work Commission that retrenchments at Victoria University had to proceed because the university expected a $30m “shortfall”– an admission no executive would enjoy. She also chaired the expert group which recommended new undergraduate entry standards for all universities. These emphasise transparency and fairness and were universally praised – but how could they not be? Some institutions gamed the previous ad hockery to suit their own interests. However, in less policy-literate hands than Professor Krause, insiders with interests to protect could have stalled the new standards into irrelevance.

Linda Kristjanson

There is no embarrassment with riches at Swinburne University, which earned$118m from selling a share of its online teaching operation to SEEK.  VC Linda Kristjanson is spending on people and kit as the university expands its research effort and ups its teaching resources. According to DVC R Alexsandar Subic, Swinburne will rate in the global 100 for all “key disciplines in focus areas” by 2020. And Professor Kristjanson says, “we are now looking to grow our provision of new educational technologies to all students, with an emphasis placed on investment in transforming learning for all of our students.”

Achievers: L-N

Marcia Langton

The University of Melbourne made Professor Langton associate provost in April to, “provide leadership on relevant areas of engagement, cultural connections and other heritage issues and in the development of indigenous teaching and research activities.” It was another achievement for a great advocate for and scholar of Indigenous Australia.  Professor Langton goes where the evidence takes her.

Grahame McCulloch

The general secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union could have had a tough time this year. As enterprise bargaining began there was talk of universities stripping back employment conditions at campuses across the country. But excepting Murdoch U, where talks went from bitter to no-speaks and back to bitter, deals are done at universities in all states. The union has not pushed for big pay rises, made small concessions on conditions and management has responded in kind. Mr McCulloch is no friend to managements (or journalists) but he talks to whoever he has to and when it comes to negotiating his tactics always suit the times.

 Caroline McMillen

The University of Newcastle VC is standing down next year, leaving with the university transformed. Professor McMillen has expanded the university from its outer suburban base with a big push onto the central coast, including medical education and a flash new $95m city campus.

Jack Ma

There can’t be many reasons for the Alibaba entrepreneur to be here? Depends what you mean by ‘many’ but CMM sees 26 million of them. That’s the dollar sum Mr Ma donated this year for scholarships at the University of Newcastle. The programme results from his long friendship with the Novocastrian Morley family. The first Ma-Morley scholars are scheduled to start this year.

Tanya Monro

The photon scientist and DVC R at the University of South Australia isn’t on the list for the professional achievements, although she could be. She is here because in March she noted International Women’s Day by stumping up $80 000 over two years to assist young scientist mothers “manage their research commitments and the demands of a new baby.” That’s not money from her university budget, it’s a personal commitment. Professor Monro knows what it’s like – she had three children while building her own research career.

Peter Noonan

Peter Mitchell has spent decade studying VET and it shows in the policy papers he produces for Victoria’s University’s Mitchell Institute. With attention on VET FEE HELP the decline in trade numbers has been ignored by many commentators, but not by Professor Noonan who warns that without major investment and increased enrolments there will be big trades shortages over the next 20 years. And he warns that more public money is not the solution; it is the way it is spent. “If we have learned anything about the VET system in recent years it is that government incentives should only be provided where there is a demonstrable public benefit, not to create a fully funded market in government subsidies,” he and Sarah Pilcher wrote in August.


Grainne Oates and Dan Hunter (Swinburne University)

The pair have created a “content neutral gamified mobile earning platform,” called Quitch. It won them the American Accounting Association’s 2017 award for Innovation in Accounting Education and is already licenced to Australian universities. The app sends students Q&As based lecture content which helps them and shows lecturers where they need help – plenty of potential for a product that the university and private investors spent just $400 000 on setting up.

Tony Peacock

Dr Peacock is not a lunching lobbyist. Certainly, the head of the Cooperative Research Centres Association turns up at a lot of serious policy events but his stock in trade is information and ideas about the way applied research works and the way it is funded.  Dr Peacock speaks fluent bureaucrat and crazy-brave is the CRC bid-team that ignores his advice. He also knows a bit, quite a bit, about the way other nations fund applied research.  And he speaks up when he decides he must. When a big research institution wanted a CRC bid team to guarantee a return on investment this year Dr Peacock was discrete but dismissive suggesting the institution was less interested in collaboration than a guaranteed return on investment. And when he looked at the gender split on CRC boards he told his members they needed to lift the number of women on them from 25 per cent now to 50 per cent in three years.

Tanya Plibersek

Labor’s education spokeswoman wrote the handbook for a shadow minister in a policy-rich portfolio, hammering away at government funding failings and transforming policy problems into political opportunities. Ms Plibersek was consistent and vocal in condemning any possibility of funding cuts for universities and she talked about the need to fix the training system. However, she also hammered away at government policy changes that do not have many votes attached. She fiercely opposed the budget-linked proposal to make people in pathways programmes take out student loans. And Ms Plibersek hopped into the deans of education, telling them she was “very concerned about the academic aptitude of some students being accepted into teaching education.”

Jason Potts

It must have pained the comrade members, what with his writing about the economic role of markets, but the Academy of Social Sciences made RMIT’s Jason Potts a fellow this year. Professor Potts is immensely productive, co-authoring papers which use the forms of conventional economics to advance iconoclastic ideas. One paper this year made the case for cultures of exchange to create opportunities to innovate, another explained how innovations fail when they exceed economies capacity to absorb them, using windsurfing in Australia as an example. Professor Potts’ new big project is creating a base for block chain research, which he sees as having far more potential than a crypto-currency, being a way for society to self-regulate without state intrusion.

Jeannie Rea

The National Tertiary Education Union president is the La Pasionaria of Australian universities, (what she does not want passed is any bill that hurts students or her members). She spent this year as she does every year, arguing the case for students to pay less, or nothing for university education, for higher pay and better conditions for staff at universities and for regulation rather than a market in education. She also spoke up for casual staff, pointing that some vice chancellors make more in a week than some of them make in a year and warned that the demand driven system has not improved the quality of higher education. The NTEU has political authority way beyond its numbers, demonstrated by its big role in defeating the Pyne fee deregulation plan – a great deal of it comes from Ms Rea’s appeals to true believers in a public university system.

Craig Robertson

Under new head Craig Robertson TAFE Directors Australia is back on top of the policy game. The former state and federal official has a deep background in training policy and administration and has spent the year making the case for all of VET, and his members role in it. He started the way he meant to go on, with a budget response based on how TAFE can work to rebuild training and ended the year with calls for a coalition of training community leaders to sort out the mess in setting qualifications.

Mr Robertson is an undoubted advocate for his members, he slammed the government plan for universities to build a sub degree market, but he is no special pleader.

Belinda Robinson

The CEO of Universities Australia kept the peace among the fractious coalition that is UA this year, convinced MPs that cutting university funding would be a blow to the national interest, defended her members performance on undergraduate attrition and employment outcomes and campaigned for research funding – the same as last year, the same as every year. Ms Robinson says she is going in October – nobody is indispensable but higher education policy people know she will be missed.

Achievers: S-Z

Brian Schmidt

The ANU VC set himself up to fail with a February inaugural address that set out an enormous agenda but at the end of his first academic year he has overseen a power of work. There is a physical rebuild of ANU and resources committed to entirely new discipline areas, notably AI and cyber security. There is a new elite teacher scheme and Professor Schmidt talks of every ANU research department being in the global 100. All the changes, plus some savings to pay for them, are accompanied by not much acrimony.  And, befitting a Nobel Prize Winner he is not afraid of the big questions – in February student paper Woroni asked him if there is a place for pineapple on pizza.

Rebekha Sharkie

The NXT member for Mayo in the federal parliament did not spend a bunch of time on higher education last year but she still managed to have an impact we are yet to see the end of. In October Ms Sharkie said NXT would oppose Education Minister Birmingham’s budget package, which meant there was no point introducing it in the Senate. This was immensely significant but so was one of Ms Sharkie’s reasons. “They should look at the capping system. … We are spilling out thousands and thousands of students in areas where there is no work, and we need to make sure that we provide the best opportunities for the next generation. I don’t think we’re doing that at the moment,” she told the House of Representatives.

While demand driven funding remains government policy not all in Labor are rusted-on and there are suggestions in universities it is no needed no more. Ms Sharkie has set up a, perhaps the, big policy debate.

Adam Shoemaker

Professor Shoemaker waited a while before setting his own course as vice chancellor of Southern Cross University, but he is under full sail now. In September, he changed the logo (hard to reproduce) and dropped the motto, (“it’s all about U”) “a selfish slogan, which did not line up with the progressive, ethical and engaged nature of the university”. He has introduced new degrees and doubled the scholarship pool, giving recipients seats in his student caucus. And then a couple of weeks back he spoke out on resourcing regional universities, separate to a statement from the Regional Universities Network, which SCU belongs to.

“This proposal offers a rare opportunity to lower spending on a lifetime of welfare provision, help unemployed regional people into jobs, and create a valued regional workforce capable of building stronger regional communities,” he said.

SCU used to be easy to over-look – not any more.

Michelle Simmons

A decade back the UNSW quantum computing scientist had media attention pretty much to herself, not least she was a leader in the field and could explain what it meant in ways that hacks like CMM could (barely) understand. Today there a great many more Australian universities and scientists working to revolutionise processing speeds but Professor Simmons is still in front – for her science, how she explains it and the way she has grown into her status as a STEM role model.

In an Australia Day speech she warned the school system needed more rigour but she also celebrated her adopted country; “there is no better place to undertake research. Australia offers a culture of academic freedom, openness to ideas, and an amazing willingness to pursue goals that are ambitious. And the results speak for themselves – we have achieved tremendous success in our endeavour, largely because we gave things a go that the rest of the world didn’t dare to try.”

Colin Stirling

“We owe it to students to accelerate the pace of change,” the Flinders U VC said in January – which is what he did this year. Flinders now has a new admin structure to support its new academic organisation. Both were introduced without much pain, the result of continuing consultation and planning to prevent wholesale compulsory job losses. Management also avoided what could have been a big brawl working out a deal with the union on teaching-only positions. Professor Stirling is also investing in Industry 4.0 teaching and research, creating a future for the university and with a lot of luck, the state.

Deborah Terry

In Curtin University’s 50th year Vice Chancellor Terry looks forward. “In twenty to 30 years we will be a major internationally engaged global university,” she told CMM. IT might be sooner. In August Curtin cracked the 200 barrier in the ARWU research ranking, up from the 400-500 band in 2013. This reflects the Curtin approach, quietly calibrated for long term objectives – that Curtin now has WA’s second public university medical school is not chance. Neither are (relatively) good relations with the NTEU. Of course, Professor Terry is fortunate that the university has broad acres to turn into profitable real estate, (a site not much smaller than lower Manhattan) – but so do other WA universities which have not done as much.

Vicki Thomson

The chief executive of the Group of Eight is a warrior-intellectual, a fierce believer in elite education and happy to take on anybody who does not share her belief in the transformative power of research and teaching. Her positions extend well beyond the Group of Eight’s immediate interests, she argues that the values of education are under attack from populists and that the primacy of research is assaulted by the ignorant. She is also a formidable networker with an eye for international arrangements that advance the cause of knowledge.

Chris Tisdell

“Free videos+free ebooks = better education,” says the associate dean for education in UNSW’s science faculty. To prove his point Professor Tisdell’s YouTube learn-maths channel cracked 50 000 in May, there are 56 000 now. Enough said.

Marnie Hughes Warrington

CMM called her the “Pepys (without the prurience) of ANU” for her chronicle of the rebuilding of ANU’s campus. The university’s DVC A also writes a second series on managing universities, which is rich in insight and deeply respectful of the work that keeps the lights on, classes happening and people satisfied at work. Professor Hughes Warrington is an historian of ideas and as such obviously understands that everything about universities is interesting, you just need to recognise the challenges.

Lily Xiao and colleagues Michael Cox and Sue Stoecker

The MOOC has enormous community-service potential. Lily Xiao and her colleagues demonstrate this in their Flinders U course, via OpenLearning, on cross-cultural aged care – intended to help consumers and the 30 per cent of industry workers who come non English-speaking backgrounds. Like MOOCs on dementia (UTas) and diabetes (Curtin U), weight loss (UniNewcastle) and mindfulness (Monash U), this is a brilliant way of targeting training and empowering people to take control of issues in their lives. Yes, for-fee digital delivery is going to change how universities teach but the MOOC will extend the benefits of research and teaching across society. Attention DVCs Engagement: want to demonstrate what your academics can do for the community? Get them moving on MOOCs.

Helen Zimmerman

Ms Zimmerman is a 30-year veteran of international education and the industry association says her work is “best practise” and her leadership, “is characterised by collaboration, partnership and advocacy.” She is a long-serving Navitas executive but moves comfortably in private and public sector governance and export focused advisory and education agencies. Australia’s grasp of what its education system can accomplish for the world has changed since Ms Zimmerman was a young English-language teacher – she has played an important role in making that happen.