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The Conversations That Count


25 September 2017

The Conversations That Count

The Conversations That Count

“What can University give me that google can’t?” asked Esther Boles as the opening question for our most recent Scotch Presents event where we hosted the Vice Chancellors from Torrens University, Flinders University and the University of Adelaide (Uni SA’s VC, David Lloyd, was an apology due to commitments in the UK).

After a yummy breakfast the opportunity for 110 Scotch community members to engage with these important leaders in our community was not lost. The open nature of the forum was refreshing and provided an honest insight into many key issues which our students are interested in. Issues included the safety and wellbeing of students on campus, this had particular relevance in light of the recent release of research from the Human Rights Commission which has caused significant debate within the sector and the wider community.  There was lively discussion about the value-add of universities and their agility/ability to adapt to unknown futures in the knowledge economy. Of interest was the discussion around funding and costs to students as well as the expectations of the contemporary learner for a post-secondary schooling education. There were the inevitable questions around internationalism and the many opportunities to be found in increasing international enrolments. I’m not able to provide a detailed account of the conversation but I am able to offer my key takeaways about what the next generation of students want from their university experience:

  • Wellbeing matters and there is an agenda to be addressed
  • Funding will continue to change and therefore structures and delivery models will need to continue to change as a result
  • Internationalism is here to stay and there is great opportunity for leverage that must be harnessed to benefit both domestic and international students
  • Our school leavers have high expectations of their learning and won’t be satisfied with mediocrity
  • There is a tension between the relationship of universities with industry and their role in research

The advice from the VCs for our students resonated strongly with our expectations for Scotchies and it was great to see this strong alignment. Our shared advice for students is to:

  • Follow your passion
  • Look for the program that best suits you not just the reputation of the institution
  • Find a course that enables you to create a framework for learning that will help shape your life endeavours
  • Ask more of your experience
  • Importantly, that the interactions of people in learning together with the questions they ask, will always have a greater value than the technology which will continue to grow exponentially in ability to replicate knowledge, skills and thinking.

The conversation concluded with a resounding endorsement that Universities have a role to play to develop and shape our future world and regardless of whether the experience is in Adelaide, interstate or internationally, students nowadays are exercising their voice. My advice is get around it and don’t settle for second best in the next stage of your learning.  Thank you to Prof Mike Brooks, Adelaide Uni Acting VC, Prof Justin Beilby, VC Torrens University, and Prof Colin Stirling, VC Flinders University for their wonderful contribution. Our local universities are in very capable hands and I would urge students to visit them to ascertain if the thing they really want to do is just around the corner in one of these fantastic universities.

I’m off to Japan for the Language tour with 16 Year 9 and 10 students, Thomas san and Coggins san for the next 17 days and I know this will be a wonderful opportunity.

As I reflect on the term it has once again not disappointed in our ability to create an engaging, rigorous and relevant learning program for our students.

Thank you for your continued support of our programs and the tremendous community involvement we have witnessed around a number of key initiatives and consultation opportunities which, simply put, we know other schools are not doing.

What a wonderful weekend awaits weather wise – enjoy.