University leaders gather to discuss global issues
Friday, 7 April 2006
Nearly 300 university leaders from 30 countries are gathering in Adelaide to discuss the role higher education can play in dealing with such global issues as HIV/AIDS, gender equality, social disadvantage and sustainable development.
The Association of Commonwealth Universities' triennial Conference of Executive Deans begins on Sunday 9 April at the University of Adelaide. The theme for the four-day conference is University Futures.
The University of Adelaide's Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McWha, said the broad program took note not only of the Commonwealth's priorities, but also of moves within the broader international community for new initiatives in education.
It was expected that a final communiqué from the conference would feed directly into the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in December.
"Universities are being asked to take on roles in regeneration and economic and sustainable development, while at the same time maintaining quality and ensuring national competitiveness against tightening funding regimes," Professor McWha said. "The debate surrounding these issues promises to be an exciting one."
Australia's Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Senator the Hon. Amanda Vanstone, will deliver the ACU Commonwealth Address at Sunday's opening ceremony, while New Zealand's Minister of Research, Science and Technology, the Hon. Steve Maharey, will deliver the Conference Address on Monday.
Other speakers will include South Africa's Minister of Education, the Hon. Naledi Pandor, and former New Zealand Prime Minister and Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, the Rt. Hon. Mike Moore.
Dr Lynn Arnold, a former Premier of the State of South Australia, who is now Asia-Pacific Vice President for World Vision International, will deliver a keynote address on the responsibilities of universities from a community and global business perspective.
The conference will hear from university, government and business leaders on such issues as: sustainable development, renewing the African university, civic engagement, free trade, regional economic development, social disadvantage, gender as a barrier to opportunity in university management, HIV/AIDS and the role of university leadership, and the role of the universities in shaping national strategies for science, technology and innovation.
"This is an important opportunity for the Commonwealth universities to seize the initiative in a whole series of significant policy areas," Professor McWha said.
The conference has been organised under the auspices of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee and the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee. It is sponsored by Academic Search International, Deloitte, Oracle and The Times Higher Education Supplement.
The ACU is the world's oldest and largest inter-university organisation, with more than 500 member universities in five continents, and one of the most effective. Its aim is to strengthen the universities through the promotion of international co-operation and understanding.
The host university, the University of Adelaide, is one of Australia's most respected tertiary institutions. It has a tradition of exemplary scholarship and ground-breaking research, and a unique relationship with industry and other organisations that ensures research expertise is translated into tangible benefits for the global community.