Universities must work together for the benefit of all

Monday, 10 April 2006

University leaders must work together to ensure universities continue to be the drivers of social, cultural and economic development for the benefit of the whole Commonwealth.

That was the message today from University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor Professor James McWha as he welcomed nearly 300 university leaders from 30 countries to Adelaide for University Futures, the Association of Commonwealth Universities Conference of Executive Heads.

"Our job today as Vice-Chancellors, Presidents and Principals is to ensure that confidence in universities is sustained, to remind our communities of the importance of education and of new knowledge, to engage with each other so that benefits flow to all members of the Commonwealth, to challenge obstacles of whatever nature that are placed in our way, and to resolve challenges," Professor McWha told delegates.

"Education is the most important means by which we ensure equality of opportunity within our communities. We achieve this by enabling those who are capable of benefiting from education to gain access to that education and ensuring that society makes maximum use of the pool of talent that exists within it."

Professor McWha said these opportunities must not be limited by gender, colour, ethnicity, poverty or politics.

"Today, universities live in a world where society demands that we drive economic growth as well as generate social and cultural benefits," he said.

But this was set against tightening funding regimes with Governments increasingly reluctant or unable to provide sufficient support; business often unwilling to contribute financially; and students faced with higher fees.

"It is our responsibility as Executive Heads to find equitable ways of resolving these challenges, to earn the support of society, and ensure that universities continue to be the drivers of social, cultural and economic development," said Professor McWha.

Notes for Editors
More than 250 Vice-Chancellors from around 30 countries are attending the Adelaide conference, which is held under the auspices of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, 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, founded in 1913, is the world's oldest inter-university organisation. Its aim is to strengthen the universities in membership through the promotion of international co-operation and understanding. It works in practical ways to fulfil this aim by promoting the interests of member universities; by providing assistance with staff and student mobility and development programmes; and by researching and disseminating information about universities, management practices and policy issues. Over 500 universities in 35 counties and regions around the Commonwealth are members of the ACU, making it one of the most effective international networks in higher education in the world.

The University of Adelaide, established in 1874, is one of Australia's leading universities. It is associated with five Nobel Laureates (three of whom are graduates), and has produced nearly 100 Rhodes Scholars. Adelaide has a fine tradition of exemplary scholarship and ground-breaking research, and its unique relationship with industry and other organisations ensures that research expertise is translated into tangible benefits for the global community.


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