Newman’s ‘The Idea of a University’

Melbourne University

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Last week it was my pleasure to attend a symposium hosted by the Rector of Newman College held at the University of Melbourne in honour of John Henry Newman for whom the College is named. The symposium consisted of presentations from the Vice Chancellors of the University of Melbourne, Monash University and the Australian Catholic University. I have to say it was one of the most interesting and thought provoking events that I have attended. Each of the speakers spoke extremely well, with logic and humour and great thoughtfulness. It was most interesting to see each VC’s interpretation of John Henry Newman’s idea of the university and how that idea still resonates today even though the modern university is now perhaps more influenced by the thinking of Wilhem von Humboldt and Clark Kerr. Read more

Notes from the Inaugural National Learning and Teaching Forum

This week I attended the, grandly titled, Inaugural National Learning and Teaching Forum being held in Melbourne. It was an interesting experience. It was not a large forum by any means but the list of speakers was impressive, including Professors from many universities and many senior academic managers. The first day really focussed on quality and standards while the second day was mostly around learning spaces, virtual and physical.

For me the highlight has been the keynote on day two given by Dr Paul Kim who is the Chief Technology Officer of the School of Education at Stanford University (as an aside, how refreshing is to see an academic who is also a Chief Technology Officer for an academic organisation. If only we were more open to this idea in Australia.). This was an inspiring presentation about the rapidly evolving global higher education environment. It was the only presentation that really talked about some of the things that I see as being big issues in higher education at the moment. Specifically, online learning, mobility and the rise of new higher education providers. It was a beacon of inspiration amidst much that was somewhat disappointing.

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