Posted 29/02/2024 by: Professor David Lloyd

Einstein's observations about how time is relative to the observer may not be entirely accurate. I've not experienced any slowing of time despite moving at great speed since the start of this year. But even as I type this, I realise that I too may not be accurate, as I’m struggling to understand why it's only Thursday afternoon, when surely it should be Friday by now - so maybe Albert was right. I digress. I also find myself unusually grateful for the extra day we have in this particular year – today – (Stardate 29 February 2024) – given the volume of things that are going on in general at the moment.

One such thing that is going on right now is that we are a T minus 7 days from what we are bafflingly referring to as Day Zero – even though Day One, which one might otherwise logically assume would be 24 hours later, will in fact arrive 665 days after – Day One, of course, being January 1, 2026, and Day Zero being next Friday 8 March.

Confused? Good.

If you go fast enough, then Einstein suggests you’ll have more time to figure this out.

Next Friday is an important day. International Women’s Day. And also the date on which the Transition Council of the new Adelaide University is proclaimed – and the institution comes into being – our nominal Day Zero. Opening Day, which in Project Land we call Day One, is 1 January 2026. (You don’t need to point out the temporal anomaly that precipitates from that date being a public holiday, just roll with it, remember it’s all relative.)

What is relatively (see what I did there) straightforward to wrap our minds around is the fact that there is a relatively large number of things going on. That sentence may or may not have fallen through a quantum tunnel from early on. (As an aside, I find my blogs get more convoluted the tireder (my goodness that’s a funny word to type, tireder, tire-der, tired-er, wordnesia in action) I am when I am writing them – apologies). The reason for such convolution – not just the great achievements of our delivery of business as usual – huge shout out to everyone who’s made 2024 Orientation our best ever – and not just the rate of pace to progress matters for Day0 (tripartite agreements between three institutions, one of which doesn’t exist yet – complex? Nah) – but the other ‘Big Thing’ that’s been underway of late – the Australian Universities Accord.

The what? You know, the Accord. The 408-page, 47-recommendation-containing, expert-panel-authored review of Tertiary Education in Australia. Landed in the public domain at 6am last Sunday morning. All the cool kids are talking about it. You know.

As well those cool kids should. It’s the most important review for Higher Education since our own former Vice Chancellor, the late Prof Denise Bradley AC, undertook her review of the sector back in 2008. That work gave us the demand-driven system for participation. Sixteen years later, and with wonderful symmetry (and avid readers will know how much a chemist, even lapsed, loves a bit of symmetry) the former Vice-Chancellor [1] of the University of Adelaide, Prof Mary O’Kane, has taken on the “unfinished business” of the Bradley review and released a comprehensive piece of work, which, if adopted by Government and implemented, will be transformational for tertiary education in Australia.

I’m not going to attempt a blow-by-blow summary of the recommendations in the report – you can navigate it at your leisure via this link, but I will note this. So much of what Mary and her Accord Panel have advanced as vital to the future of Australia – “vital for Australia’s economic prosperity, democratic cohesion and environmental sustainability” – are writ large in the purpose and strategy we are advancing for our new Adelaide University. Access to education for non-traditional entrants and under-represented participants. The embedding of First Nations Knowledge in elements of curriculum. Students at the centre of what we do. Research in partnership with end-users. Flexible delivery of high-quality education. Modular, stackable and transferable qualifications. It’s a little spooky to be honest. Perhaps another manifestation of a quantum tunnel as we worked to describe our vision of a for-purpose Australian University for the Future – some of the focus slipped through to other minds and conversations which were tasked with describing a for-purpose Australian University Sector for the Future.

It's early days yet, and goodness knows, not even Friday yet, but the early signs are that this report has the potential to shepherd in generational transformation for higher education in this country. Which is never easy, but would certainly be worth the effort. And as it lands, over the coming weeks, months and years – our endeavour, the creation of the new Adelaide University – will land in parallel – incredibly poised to deliver on that potential new future – and to shape it on the way through. It didn’t go unnoticed – by anyone, including the Minister – that UniSA won two of the seven inaugural Shaping Australia Awards announced in the Great Hall of Parliament House at the Universities Australia Conference Dinner on Tuesday night. The only double-winner. Because that’s where we excel – in shaping outcomes – for our students, our partners, our community. And as we shape Adelaide University from Day0, through the strength of its Founding Act – rest assured we will be front and centre of generational change to come.

[1] So far, the greatest difference I have unearthed between the University of South Australia and The University of Adelaide in practice is the utility of hyphenation in describing the Vice[-]Chancellor. (Oh, and capitalisation of the letter T in the, The?, th-e. It’s happening again).

Professor David Lloyd

Through The Big Picture, I hope that our whole community gains a greater and current appreciation of what is going on, how it fits together and how our activities connect and reinforce each other at a whole of enterprise level.


Tag cloud