Conference report – connecting with THE community

Last month ANU participated in the “Re-emerging, Re-defining, Re-energizing ANZ” conference hosted by THE Campus Live – the first in-person meeting of this kind for higher education sector and university administrators since the pandemic. 

The event was designed by Times Higher Education (THE) in consultation with the sector to identify the biggest challenges faced by higher education right now. “The ANZ region finds itself emerging from what is undeniably its most turbulent few years in recent memory. The degradation of the physical environment and multiple lockdowns have given rise to a very different landscape now compared to just two years ago.” 

ANU’s engagement with Times Higher Education (THE) deepened in 2021 when we became a contributing partner to THE Campus, an international publication platform that allows ANU professional and academic staff to showcase their expertise and experience around higher education to our colleagues in the sector. We are actively seeking contributions for the ANU partner page – more details here

Listen to Chris Platt from Times Higher Education Live discuss the THE Campus platform and last month’s conference below: 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student and University Experience), Professor Ian Anderson, reflected on the conference: “It was a great opportunity for face-to-face conversations on the pressing issues of higher education policy. There was a lively conversation on issues impacting on the recovery of international markets. I particularly enjoyed the session on how to find better ways to embed Indigenous outcomes across the whole of University. One particularly interesting session focussed on an analysis of the cost of delivery for teaching. With the change of government there will be opportunities to reset our policy framework for higher education. This conference provided a stimulating set of sessions that helped prepare for that.” 

Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Christopher Price, reflected on some themes raised in the event: 

A session on politicisation and populism in higher education yielded a conversation about social licence. Universities have to find ways to navigate community sentiment when that conflicts with institutional values. How can universities retain the confidence of their communities when their objectives differ? The example used was that of Brexit in the UK, and how communities that voted for the UK to leave the European Union would perceive their universities which were largely advocating to ‘remain’. It raised numerous great questions about institutional values and legitimacy, and the influence of politics on concepts like social licence. 

The sustainability of Australia & New Zealand’s (ANZ) education sector was widely discussed also. Factors like post-study work rights, the quality of the student experience, and broader reputational issues were all canvassed. Australia’s main rivals for student enrolments – the UK and USA – are in degrees of political turmoil, but students remain attracted to them as destinations. ANZ’s challenge is to make and then sell an educational experience that is compelling enough to compete. 

Some discussion of universities’ influence on government and public policy occurred, with mixed views about how successful universities are in cutting through with governments. It appeared to depend on the issue and context. This struck home for ANU, where we are always determined to engage with the public policy process to ensure the work we do benefits Australian society. 

September 2022 

Rafael Florez is the Multimedia Education Communications Officer within the Centre for Learning and Teaching, part of the Academic Portfolio.