History of University Life: Universities back in the News – School of Humanities History of University Life: Universities back in the News – School of Humanities

USyd political economy protest,

History of University Life: Universities back in the News

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

Can Australian universities and governments have constructive conversations about the place of universities in our society?

In a keynote address at the recent Higher Education Summit, the Federal Minister of Education, The Hon. Alan Tudge MP, made a bold statement. He said that after investigating university accounts, he believes there is no need for further government support. These were fighting words and suggest our current government doesn’t think much of public universities.

But does it have to be like this? This webinar questions the status quo of higher education in Australia. It builds on the new book, Australian Universities: A History of Common Cause (NewSouth Press 2020), to explore the relationship between high school and higher education, the idea of the ‘public university’, the meaning of ‘national responsibility’, and the mystery of who actually funds university research.

Chaired by Julia Horne, co-convenor of History of University Life


  • Helen Proctor is an academic in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney who studies how schools shape social and cultural life within and beyond their physical boundaries. Her research uses historical perspectives and methods to examine the making of contemporary educational systems, contributing to the research fields of history of education and critical inquiry into current schooling policy and practice.
  • Gwilym Croucher is a senior lecturer in the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne. A higher education analyst and researcher, he was a 2017–2018 Fulbright Scholar and has been a Chief Investigator on Australian Research Council and Office for Learning and Teaching funded projects. His latest book (with James Waghorne) is Australian Universities: A History of Common Cause (UNSW Press, 2020).
  • James Waghorne works on the history of universities in the University of Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education. His book Australian Universities (with Gwilym Croucher) was published in 2020, and his history of student life at the University of Melbourne is to be published later this year. James is investigator on the ‘Expert Nation’ and ‘Universities and Post-war Recovery’ ARC projects, tracing the careers of university graduates who served in the First and Second World Wars.
  • Alan Pettigrew is a neuroscientist with a long career in medical research. Since the 1990s he has held senior appointments at various Australian universities including as Vice-Chancellor and CEO of the University of New England (2006 to 2009) and was the inaugural CEO of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (2001 to 2005). He is currently an Expert Advisor to the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) and an external Fellow of Senate at the University of Sydney, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Senate’s People and Culture Committee.
  • Julia Horne is professor of History at the University of Sydney and University Historian. She works on the history of the twentieth century including higher education, women and postwar society. Her books include Sydney: the Making of a Public University (Miegunyah Press, 2012, co-authored with Geoffrey Sherington) and Preserving the Past: The University of Sydney and the Unified National System of Higher Education 1987-96, (Melbourne University Publishing, 2017, co-authored with Stephen Garton). She is co-convenor of History of University Life.


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 2020/21 online series provided by the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney.

Webinars in this special series are now available online:


On Zoom


Social Media

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

 Image: Political Economy activists on top of the clock tower, 15 June 1983. Anthony Albanese is bottom left. (Frank Stilwell’s collection)


Sep 15 2021


4:00 pm - 5:00 pm





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