Higher Education Reform—where to now? – School of Humanities Higher Education Reform—where to now? – School of Humanities

Higher Education Reform—where to now?

2020 Sydney Research Webinar in Higher Education | History of University Life

Higher Education Reform—where to now?

Doesn’t Australia deserve a decent conversation about higher education reform?

It is now 30 years since the last major Commonwealth reform of Australia’s higher education system. In thinking of a new way forward, this webinar examines the current relationship between the Commonwealth and public universities and explores the idea of higher education reform as a social and public good.

Chaired by Matthew A.M. Thomas, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Education and Sociology of Education at the University of Sydney and co-convenor of History of University Life.


Glyn Davis, AC, is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University and Visiting Professor at the Blavatnik School of Government and Visiting Fellow at Exeter College, Oxford. In 2019, he joined the Paul Ramsay Foundation as Chief Executive Officer, Australia’s largest philanthropic endowment, with a mission to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Professor Davis previously served as Vice-Chancellor at the University of Melbourne (2005-2018). Alongside his role at the Foundation, he is a public policy specialist with experience in government and higher education, and in 2017, published The Australian Idea of a University.

 Tamson Pietsch is Associate Professor in Social and Political Sciences and Director of the Australian Centre for Public History at the University of Technology Sydney. Her research focuses on the history and politics of higher education and ideas. Tamson is the author of Empire of Scholars: universities, networks and the British academic world (2013), and is currently writing a book about the 1926 world-cruise of the “Floating University” as well as leading an ARC project on expertise in interwar Australia. Tamson is host of The New Social Contract podcast, which examines how the relationship between universities, the state and the public might be reshaped under the pressures of both covid19 and climate change.

Leo Ren-Hao Xu is a PhD Candidate in Education at the University of Sydney. His research examines how governments have allocated university places to students and, in particular, compares higher education enrolment policies in Australia and Taiwan. Prior to his candidature, Leo was an administrator of the Department of Education, Taipei City Government, engaged in facilitating the 12-Year Basic Education Reform.

Matthew A.M. Thomas is  Senior Lecturer in Comparative Education and Sociology of Education at the University of Sydney. He has worked as a public school teacher in the United States and as an educational researcher, educator, and consultant in Australia, Mali, Nigeria, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Zambia. His research examines educational policies, pedagogical practices, teachers’ lives, and the changing roles of teacher and higher education institutions. Most recently, Matthew is the co-editor of Examining Teach For All (Routledge, 2020) and the Handbook of Theory in Comparative and International Education (Bloomsbury, 2021).


Future seminar dates for your diary

  • 11 November @4-5pm Please note change of date
    The Current Crisis
  • 2 December @4-5pm
    Archiving University Life in the Age of Covid-19 

These online seminars are brought to you by History of University Life Sydney Research Seminar in Higher Education. History of University Life began in 2008 as a joint forum between the University of Sydney and St Paul’s college to discuss the history and role of universities in Australian life.

Many thanks for the support of St Paul’s College since 2008. And thanks, too, for the wonderful assistance for the 2020 online series provided by the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney.


Online on Zoom

About registration

The Zoom webinar link will be sent as an email and calendar invite on the Monday prior to the event.

For more information about the series please email the History of University Life convenors Click here to email


Watch past seminars on Vimeo

Seminar 3: Can the humanities and social sciences survive the Covid crisis?

Seminar 2: International Students and Australian Universities 

Seminar 1: University Education is a Pathway to Employment

Social Media

Please use the hashtag #UniKeeper for your social media posts.


Oct 14 2020


4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


This event is free





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