Presentation of the 1999-2000 University of the Year Award and Launch of the Productive Partnerships Guide

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GST Start-up Assistance for Farmers
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Presentation of the 1999-2000 University of the Year Award and Launch of the Productive Partnerships Guide







Thank you very much Peter Wilson for that introduction and some stories that I didn’t want to be reminded of. Your story about seeing the University of Queensland on a coffee mug, I don’t believe a word of that. If you’d have said you’d seen the University of Queensland logo on a beer glass, I probably would have believed it. But can I say, I remember my own under-graduate career with some fondness. In second year politics I must have done reasonably well and got a good mark from my then tutor, Andrew Theophanous, because I received a letter inviting me to join the Honours School at Monash University from the Professor of Politics and the Dean of the Faculty, Dr David Kemp, who wrote a letter, “Dear Undergraduate, you may have a career in politics. Have you thought of joining the Honours School?” And I didn’t. But I want to welcome my good friend, Dr David Kemp, my old professor, who is here today. And I asked him before I came, what is it about universities that makes them different? And his definition, which he assures me is quite well known, is that a university is made up of warring groups held together by a common interest in on-campus parking.

So it’s a great pleasure for me to have been invited here to announce the Good Universities Guides Award for the University of the Year and to launch the latest guide. I wanted to accept this invitation because of the importance of universities to our community.

Universities represent our best and our highest hopes for our young and our old, for our society as a whole. They are centres of excellence. Something about that word, isn’t there, that we ought to talk a lot more about – centres for excellence. Universities as centres for excellence in modern society, where men and women seek to push the frontiers of knowledge and understanding. And the Award is a great opportunity to recognise and encourage this great endeavour.

The theme for the University of the Year Award is reassessed every year. This is appropriate, the world is forever changing. When I was a student at university I hand-wrote every essay. I can remember for a time I was actually a lecturer at a university, marking exam papers. And students hand-wrote all of their essays and all of the questions. And since most of them were indecipherable at the end of the marking you had two opportunities – one was to give a pass and one was to give a fail. And you knew that by and large if it was longer it was deserving of a pass and if it was shorter it was deserving of a fail. I didn’t touch a computer, there were no faxes when I was at university, let alone the possibility to email work to and from home and the university. And each University of the Year Award and each annual intake of students marks a time of change in our society. And to respond to this one institution compiles a list each year to try to give its staff a sense of the mind-set of that years undergraduate intake.

For the students who started university this year:

  • Most were born in 1981
  • They are too young to remember the Iranian hostage crisis
  • They don’t remember the 1987 stock market crash
  • They have no real recollection of the Reagan era
  • They have known only one Pope
  • Their lifetime has always included AIDS
  • They have never owned a record player
  • They have never known the Kingswood Holden.
  • They’ve always had an answering machine
  • They have no idea who shot JR and no interest in knowing who shot JR
  • They don’t know who Mork is or where he came from
  • Popcorn for them was always cooked in a microwave
  • They never sang ‘God save the Queen’ as I did at school, but they always saluted the flag as I always do. Passionately. The Australian Flag.

I refer to these changes to make the point that the environment in which academic pursuits take place changes more rapidly than we might think. The cultural and the technological context is not static. Universities reflect, respond to and drive change.

And the environment in which students and academics work is always changing as are the tools of inquiry they use – but the hope, the drive, thirst for knowledge and the desire for excellence should always remain constant

In this context a Good Universities Guide is so important. Students need a guide as to where to begin their academic journey. They’re a valuable source of information about Australian universities to assist students to make informed choices.

And the series of guides which has been produced led under a team led by Dean Ashenden and Sandra Milligan, includes annual Guides to undergraduate, postgraduate, business and management courses.

The Good Universities Guides University of the Year Award is now widely acknowledged as the most prestigious award for Australian universities.

Last year’s award went to the University of Queensland for achieving outstanding outcomes for graduates; the previous year, the award went to Charles Sturt University acknowledging it as an outstanding university for first generation university students.

The focus of this year’s award and of the latest publication is Productive Partnerships – education, training and research and development services for business, government and the professions.

A central aspect of this year’s focus on Productive Partnerships is the commercialisation of university services and intellectual property. These activities are now second only to international student fees as a source of non-government revenue for universities.

And the revenues generated for universities by these sorts of activities are very important, but the major long-term benefit of these activities by universities is the creation of a knowledge-based, internationally competitive economy. A knowledge-based internationally competitive economy.

The new publication – Productive Partnerships – which I am launching today, is the first volume in a new series of publications by the Guides team, to be called Good Universities Showcase Series.

This first guide includes a comprehensive directory of university education, training and R&D services. It provides information and advice for prospective users of these services.

A key to innovation is the flow of ideas and skills between universities and industry. And the Government already has a successful track record in this area, through its Strategic Partnerships with Industry – Research and Training Program known as SPIRT, and the Cooperative Research Centres and Key Centres for Teaching and Research.

In fact I said to Professor Kemp on the way up, how is it Professor that I haven’t heard of SPIRT in an ERC meeting? And he said, that’s because you always sign off on our increases in funding each time it’s brought in.

And I want to pay tribute to the work that David Kemp has done in education. He is somebody who obviously understands the way in which universities work and their culture. And it is invaluable to have somebody with that background being part of a Government. It’s a rare thing but a valuable thing.

Many of you would know too, after you have survived the rigours of academic politics, the House of Representatives is a piece of cake. It’s much, much easier for Universities to be part of that.

And now, we come to the part of today’s function that I am sure you are all eagerly awaiting, which is the announcement of the winner of this year’s University of the Year.

Extensive research leading up to the selection of the University of the Year revealed that there is no one university in Australia at the cutting edge in both:

  • Industry-related and industry-supported research and development; and in
  • Corporate education and training.

And for this reason, it has been decided for the first time to make a joint award for the title – University of the Year.

It is with great pleasure that I announce the winner for outstanding R&D partnerships is – the University of Wollongong.

The winner for outstanding education and training partnerships is – Deakin University.

The University of Wollongong is proof that the adoption of strategies such as research concentration, a focus on real-world research, team building and partnerships with local business can yield outstanding results.

These results are being achieved despite the University’s relative youth, and its location in a regional city that has been beset by considerable economic difficulties. In fact I heard earlier that the University of Wollongong, I believe, is now the second largest employer in the Illawarra – an indication of the development of a service-based economy and the advantages of a service-based economy to regional areas.

The University of Wollongong earned more Australian Research Council competitive research funding in 1999, as a share of its operating budget, than any other Australian university. It has achieved its pre-eminent position having moved steadily up the rankings over the last decade.

Coupled with this achievement, the University also devotes the highest proportion of its research to applied, real-world problems of any Australian university.

Wollongong receives the highest share of SPIRT funding as a share of its operating budget. It ranks second, after Sydney, in terms of the level of funding under the Key Centres program. And ranks third, after Melbourne and New South Wales, in terms of postgraduate students in receipt of Australian Postgraduate Awards in Industry. Congratulations to Wollongong.

Deakin University is the nation’s leading university in terms of its education and training partnerships. It is the biggest provider of corporate education and training in Australia, with the equivalent of 9000 full-time students in award courses.

It is also the most creative institution in terms of developing, structuring and delivering courses and in structuring its own operations and the many partnerships it has established.

In achieving its current position, Deakin sought an alternative approach to the model of the long-established, research intensive universities. It focused on its strengths. It developed its traditional expertise in distance education to expand into the provision of corporate education and training through its purpose-built agency called Deakin Australia.

In recent years, Deakin’s partnerships program has been greatly expanded and diversified. All faculties now have portfolios of partnerships that develop various combinations of corporate education and training, of R&D, of consultancy, of research support and student workplace experience. Congratulations to Deakin University.

These are two great institutions. They are the best of the best at what they do. They deserve acknowledgement and will serve as a source of inspiration for other institutions.

I would now like to invite Professor John Hay, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Queensland, and the winner of the 1998 University of the Year Award, to bring up the trophy so that it can be presented to Professor Gerard Sutton, Vice-Chancellor of Wollongong and Professor Geoff Wilson, Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University.