24 Aug Spring Newsletter 2020
A View from the Chair – Professor Jim Nyland
The third decade of the 21st century is proving to be a time of great challenge and change for universities. Our future seems set to be one of social crisis, which at the same time is an educational crisis. The broadening and deepening themes of university engagement from business and industry to community in response to these crises pose fundamental questions of what our universal higher learning system should and can be.
At the end of this year Engagement Australia will showcase the very best engagement activities undertaken by Australian universities when it hosts the Engagement Excellence Awards (previously Bhert Awards), so keep your eyes on your inbox for dates! The 2020 Awards include 124 submissions from 35 universities, one of the largest competitive fields for the Awards since their inception in 1997.
This amazing response from across the sector I believe reflects what the great art critic John Berger called our longing for community. It also highlights the need for us to come together this year to celebrate the amazing work being done by all our universities through reciprocal partnerships.
There has never been a more important time for Australian universities to become deeply engaged with their communities, and to align these transformational operations with their strategic priorities – from research and industry engagement to the health and well-being of the communities in which they serve. Our universities must move beyond what Professor Sharon Bell has called their traditional role as ‘anchor’ institutions to that of ‘mooring’ individuals and communities. If we are tasked never let a serious crisis go to waste then we surely have the opportunity now to re-think the purpose of public higher education in terms of its engagement with its communities and its increasingly important sense of place.