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Education Minister delivers inaugural Bradley Oration

17 November 2022
Vice-Chancellor welcomes Australian Universities Accord
Last night the Federal Minister for Education, Hon. Jason Clare MP, unveiled the membership and terms of reference for the Australian Universities Accord and committed to a new era of collaboration and reform.
Four people standing together and smiling

Professor Mark Scott, Hon. Jason Clare MP, Professor Bruce King and Kirsten Andrews at the inaugural Bradley Oration in the University of Sydney's Great Hall.

The Minister made the announcement at the University of Sydney’s inaugural Bradley Oration, which honours the late Professor Denise Bradley AC.

During his oration the Minister paid tribute to Professor Bradley’s legacy and her significant and positive impact on the tertiary education sector, including what we now know as the Bradley Review.

“Out of the review came the demand-driven system and regulator TEQSA. Targets for how many young Australians should have a degree by 2020. Reforms to student income support. And Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program that provides extra support to students from poor backgrounds, from the regions, and Indigenous Australians to stay at university and graduate,” Mr Clare said.

Mr Clare also announced Professor Mary O’Kane AC, who knew Professor Bradley well, will lead the new Australian Universities Accord.

Professor O’Kane and five other members – Professor Barney Glover AO, Ms Shemara Wikramanayake, the Hon Jenny Macklin, Professor Larissa Behrendt AO and the Hon Fiona Nash – will look "at everything from funding and access, to affordability, transparency, regulation, employment conditions and how higher education and vocational education and training can and should work together”.

Universities are vital places where the next generation are educated and where future solutions are discovered, and the Albanese Government’s Universities Accord is our opportunity to future-proof and strengthen our tertiary education sector.
Professor Mark Scott, Vice-Chancellor and Principal

The University of Sydney’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Mark Scott, welcomed the announcement and said he was optimistic about the opportunity for the University and the sector to work constructively with government, to ensure the public value of education and research was fully realised. 

“Universities are vital places where the next generation are educated and where future solutions are discovered, and the Albanese Government’s Universities Accord is our opportunity to future-proof and strengthen our tertiary education sector.

“I’m delighted Minister Clare has selected the right panel of experts to wade into that complexity – with vital reforms to follow on the other side. I warmly welcome Minister Clare’s appointment of Professor Mary O’Kane AC to lead the Accord process. Together, the five panel members bring a wealth of experience and perspectives to the task.

“I, and my colleagues at Sydney, are ready to work with the panel to address these challenges together.

“I welcome the Accord’s broad scope but especially the renewed focus on improving equity of access, how our vocational and higher education systems work together, and the way Australia supports university research and its translation for public benefit.”

Intended to be an annual event in the University’s calendar, the Bradley Oration brought together senior leaders in tertiary education, departmental officials as well as Professor Bradley’s family to hear the Minister speak in the University’s Great Hall. 

An alumna of the University of Sydney (B Arts in 1962 and Honoris Causa in 2017), Professor Bradley – among other major reforms and achievements – led the 2008 higher education review that gave rise to Australia’s demand-driven funding system, as well as the establishment of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). She also served as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Australia from 1996 to 2007.  

Upon Professor Bradley’s passing in March 2020, the University’s Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor wrote to Professor Bruce King, Professor Bradley’s husband, seeking to host an event which would honour her contribution to our sector.

Denise would have been enormously pleased that the University of Sydney has chosen to recognise her career, by establishing the ongoing contribution for educational ideas and policy.
Professor Bruce King, Professor Denise Bradley’s husband

Professor Scott said he was deeply proud to be able to honour Professor Bradley in this way, particularly after delays due to the pandemic.

“It is wonderful to be here among this esteemed audience of colleagues and the people who loved Denise most, her family, to celebrate the huge professional and personal contribution she made throughout her life,” he said. 

Professor King noted Professor Bradley was a graduate of the University of Sydney at a time when five percent of the populations shared the opportunity for higher education.

“It’s important to understand how profound that experience was for Denise; her subsequent life and education was driven by her view that education should benefit both the individual and society.

“Denise would have been enormously pleased that the University of Sydney has chosen to recognise her career, by establishing the ongoing contribution for educational ideas and policy,” he added.

Kirsten Andrews, the University of Sydney's Vice-President, External Engagement and master of ceremonies of the Oration, also worked with Professor Bradley at the University of South Australia as a young graduate.

“Over that period, I discovered the great joy of working for a deeply committed values-driven leader and an incredible feminist who shared her power with other women. With her as my mentor, that time remains very dear to me,” Ms Andrews said. 

The Oration followed a powerful Acknowledgement of Country by Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy and Services.

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