THE Live ANZ to focus on resilience in the coronavirus era

Sector leaders to debate how region can retain its leading position in global higher education

August 3, 2020
Source: iStock

The consequences of rapidly diminishing resources as governments grapple with the economic impact of Covid-19 has been felt by the higher education sector on a global scale, but particularly acutely by Antipodean communities. Having already been dealt the blows of the devastating bushfires that ravaged considerable portions of Australian wildlife, the region’s economy and environment scarcely had any recovery time before lockdowns went into effect, staunching the typically healthy flow of international students. The virtual THE Live ANZ event on 5 August will examine how Australia and New Zealand can build resilience in their university models and retain their positions as home to some of the most sought-after institutions of tertiary education.

John Ross, Times Higher Education’s Asia-Pacific editor, said: “In normal times, every 50th person in Australia is an international student. They’re hardwired into society and into the higher education financial model, and this leaves universities vulnerable – a vulnerability that Covid-19 has exposed in spades.”

The day-long webinar will start at 10:00 (Sydney, AEST) with an opening keynote delivered by Catriona Jackson, chief executive and director of Universities Australia, who will highlight successful efforts by Australian universities to thrive in spite of less-than-ideal circumstances.

Tony Maguire, regional director of the ANZ branch of D2L, will converse with Trish McCluskey about ways to amend and enhance traditional learning environments to suit the more flexible teaching methods of the future. Sofie Emmertsen, executive education consultant at Inspera, will illustrate various case studies across Scandinavia that have benefited from digital assessment.

Mr Ross continued: “Covid-19 has also given Australian and New Zealand universities an opportunity to demonstrate their flexibility and resilience, as they pivoted online and maintained delivery to students at home and elsewhere. Domestic enrolments are rising as people dislodged from the labour market bide their time in education. In Australia, federal government policy has helped universities respond to this demand. But it has offered comparatively little to support international education.”

Highlighting the strong work by Antipodean universities to meet sustainability targets, Duncan Ross, chief data officer at THE, will conduct an exclusive analysis of the THE Impact Rankings – the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A panel session on the pandemic’s effect on the Antipodean research landscape will follow, featuring contributions from John Bell, deputy vice-chancellor of research and innovation at the University of Southern Queensland, and Ian Wright, deputy vice-chancellor of research at the University of Canterbury. Stephen Parker, global lead for education and skills at KPMG, will discuss cost-effective strategies that universities can adopt while under financial strain from a lack of international revenue.

Ahead of the virtual World Academic Summit 2020, Phil Baty, THE’s chief knowledge officer, will provide an exclusive preview of the THE World University Rankings 2021, paying close attention to the opportunities and threats faced by the Antipodean university system.

The final panel of the day will include insights from vice-chancellors from across the region, such as Dawn Freshwater, vice-chancellor of the University of Auckland, and Rufus Black, vice-chancellor of the University of Tasmania, weighing in on the past academic year, and their hopes and fears for what comes next.

Mr Ross concluded: “Universities are weathering the storm this year, with difficulty. But 2021 and 2022 could be a different story. This event looks at the prospects for ANZ universities in the short and medium terms as they grapple with one of the most daunting challenges they have ever faced.”

Find out more and register for the virtual Times Higher Education THE Live ANZ event on 5 August.

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