d e a n   f o r b e S                                                               knowledge economy - universities - cities

Blog 2012                                                              scroll down to see more 2012 blogs


I am acquiring a small family of Moleskines. It started two years ago with a small Moleskine notebook, then a few weeks back I acquired a Moleskine Weekly Notebook (aka a 2013 diary), and now a Moleskine black pen.

It prompted me to have a look at the website to clarify how to pronounce the name. It turns out that in Italian, it is pronounced mole-skine (to rhyme with shine). I will now challenge everyone who continues to say mole-skin.

The history is fascinating. Inspired by the small notebooks used by big-name artists and writers in Paris in the late 19th and early 20th Century, a small company based in Milan (where else) and called Modo & Modo started production of their version in 1997. The Moleskine range is increasing, Modo & Modo having been bought out by a French entity in 2006. 

A final word: the name Moleskine was first used by Bruce Chatwin to describe his travel notebooks in Songlines, which I have read, and borrowed from to describe my feelings during one of my first visits to the USA (interpreting the American landscape through American rock music). (26/12/12)


After 13 years as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor I stepped down from the role last week. I have posted the text of my final speech as DVC.  (19/12/12)


A reception was hosted in the Yunggorendi First Nations Centre  to formally thank Australian Executor Trustees, represented by the Charitable Services Manager, Mr Cesare Silvestri for three scholarships for Indigenous students study at Flinders University for the next three years. The scholarships are in Creative Arts, Health Sciences and the Professions. I presented a Certificate of Recognition to Mr Silvestri. (8/12/12)


I think of (Associate Professor) Clive Forster as a true Flinders man. Why: he has worked at Flinders since 1970. 43 years, give or take. And he has made a significant series of contributions to the University.

I met Clive soon after he arrived at Flinders. I was in my Honours year. I think I took Clive’s topic, and I think I passed. Just scraped through, more than likely. His appointment strengthened the Discipline in urban studies, which was till then the specialisation of Bob Stimson (and others).

To get me into the right frame of mind when preparing these few words I had a look at a photograph taken of the predominantly male Geography staff and students at the Honours camp at Victor Harbour in 1970, the year Clive commenced at Flinders.

Clive was at the back, with his dark hair and beard. He looked fresh, young and innocent. It contrasted with the appearance of Bob Stimson who also had dark hair and a beard but looked more like a hit-man than an academic.

When I returned to Flinders in 1992 I was given an office opposite to Clive. We both liked to start work early in the morning. Clive’s arrival signalled that it was eight o’clock. I could set my watch on it.

He was a great contributor to the Discipline, which became a Department, and then a School, both in terms of his teaching and his administrative work. He could always be relied upon for considered advice. And I certainly needed that and valued Clive’s opinion.

In subsequent years Clive and I jointly taught the Masters topic on Urban Environmental Management. I was proud of the symmetry of the topic, with Clive focusing on Australia, and me on Asia. Half the students were Australians, and half international students from Asia, so they had much to learn from each other.

Moving forward to the present. I did a quick and dirty survey. More in the Stimo tradition than Clive’s, I know (the survey, that is, not the quick and dirty).

It was a small sample. Confidentiality requirements prevent me from telling you the sample size, or naming the informants (though it did include Vice Chancellor Michael Barber). I can assure you the sample was gender balanced.

I asked the people with whom I spoke to say what words came to mind when they thought of Clive:

Thoughtful. Reliable. Professional (one person expressed it a slightly different way, saying he is not bloody minded). Systematic. Punctual. A high level of integrity. A perfectionist (but I did find a spelling mistake in his University web page). Wryly critical. The voice of moderation. A lover of red wine. A grower of vegetables

Clive is much admired for his sharpened pencils and tidy office; his clean desk strategy (David Bass, I imagine, is especially envious); his Olympic standard time keeping; his deep understanding of the issues confronting Australian cities; his contribution to geography and urban studies in Australia; his passion for cricket; his skills as a photographer; and his combination of a dour appearance and a serious capacity for black humour.

One informant said ‘the fox knows many things, the hedgehog just one’. I have no idea what it is referring to but it did sound profound. I am not even sure if Clive is the fox or the hedgehog.

What I can be sure of is that there is no disputing Clive’s enormous commitment to his School/Department/Discipline and to the two Faculties with which he has been associated. And he is also highly respected for his loyalty and commitment to Flinders University.

Clive has made a major, and enduring contribution, as a teacher, a researcher, and a manager (and probably also as a cricketer).

Flinders great strength as a University is its capacity to transform the lives of many of the students who study here (and that certainly includes me). It achieves this through the skill, commitment and integrity of its staff.

Clive exemplifies the best of that Flinders quality. His has made a substantial contribution over the years and his departure will be a big loss to the University.

I am sure we all wish him (and Anna) a very happy and fulfilling retirement.

This was my Speech at a farewell event for Clive Forster, on Friday 23 November 2012.


The Australia in the Asian Century White Paper was released last month. It was a warm Sunday afternoon and I was cruising on a private yacht around the South China Sea, in and out of the bays of Hong Kong and the New Territories. A magical experience, particularly in the late afternoon as the sun set. We docked on Lamma Island for dinner at our hosts’ favourite seafood restaurant. So when I returned to the hotel I downloaded the White Paper and had a flick through it, but really struggled to get a grip on its contents.

The White Paper was released in the middle of my last visit to the region for 2012. It started in Beppu, where the International Network of Universities Council meeting was held on the campus of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University.  Over the next couple of weeks I visited Hong Kong for a graduation, Kunming for an alumni event, and Tianjin for a graduation (389 students, no less) and an alumni event. I was living the Australian in the Asian century thing, but I struggled to get a grip on the 320 page report.

Now the flurry of comment that greeted its release has abated, I have started to take a closer look, beginning with higher education. My first thought is that it is a mixed bag. It has challenged universities to get more engaged with Asia, but really adds nothing new to what universities are already doing. At the same time it basically ‘boxes’ universities rather than connecting up what universities do in their connections with other key sectors. It is a common shortcoming in government strategies at both the state and national levels. But I have more to read and think about, and I will post more comments soon. (17/11/12)


I was very honored to be awarded the title of Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor by Vice Chancellor Michael Barber today. The link is at ow.ly/eEBBn (22/10/12)


Very pleased that Dr Arthur van Deth was honoured with an award for Best Practice/Innovation at last week’s IEAA Conference. Arthur has established, and continued to manage since 2003, an exceptional program delivering the Masters of Hospital Administration in China in conjunction with Nankai University. (11/10/12)


The Australian International Education Conference was held in Melbourne this past week. I contributed to four differenet sessions.

I put a lot of work into my short piece in the session titled ‘Damocles Sword?: Standards in International Education’. I needed to think through how the ‘standards’ approach to quality assurance was going to impact on international education.

Andrew Trounson, from The Australian, interviewed me just prior to the Conference, and his piece came out last Wednesday, so there was forewarning of what I wanted to stay. I have included his article into my paper for the AIEC.

I was one of four Panelists for the session in which Michael Chaney, Chair of the Government’s International Education Advisory Council, spoke about the five year international strategy that is in preparation. He was constrained by the need not to reveal the details because it has not been through the Minister, but he did outline a few key themes including sustainability, the importance of the student experience, and the need for coordination across the sector.

Stephen Connelly chaired the session and asked questions of the Panellists: You have been in higher education for a long time. Do we need an international education strategy?

My Answer: Longevity does not equate with wisdom, regrettably. Neither does youthfulness. Inter-generational equity prevails on this matter.

There are strategic issues that we need to deal with, immigration being top of mind. The experience of London Metropolitan University shows how risky it is to take on additional responsibility for visa issues.

Essentially we need to strike a balance between the government and industry role in international education. There has been a good relationship between universities and Government over the past 25 years. It has been important in facilitating the growth of international education in Australia.

However, we are now well established, and it is time to recalibrate that relationship, and particularly shift Government’s role from setting directions to enabling and supporting the sector.

The universities, and other educational institutions, have well thought through and successful international strategies, there is increasing differentiation between them, and their brands are increasingly global. It is important to recognize the role of public and private education institutions in driving the growth of international education.

What can Government do?

It can remove Government barriers as it did in the 1980s when fee-paying international education commenced. It can provide supportive infrastructure eg visa (for which we pay the costs involved). It should provide regulation that assists with quality assurance, especially through approval to accept international students. And it can assist with the removal of barriers to trade and unfair competition.

An enabling international strategy can play an important role. However, the sector does not need the Government to provide industry leadership; that should be left to the institutions themselves.

The ‘Principles to Promote and Protect the Human Rights of International Students’ was launched at the AIEC by Dr Helen Szoke, the Race Discrimination Commissioner.

In my response I welcomed the publication of the Principles. It is a no-brainer, really, for universities. We want our students to have a good experience. That includes recognition of their rights and respect for their rights within the university and in the broader community.

But the principles enter into a crowded terrain. Universities already have multiple responsibilities for their students. A number are mentioned in the Principles report: ESOS and the National Code; the AUQA/TEQSA regulation that is currently moving to a standards based approach, which will include student welfare. In South Australia we have the independent perspective of the Office of the Training Advocate. And a series of Government strategies, particularly in the aftermath of the problems in 2009.

Nevertheless, we still have significant challenges in Australia. Not all our students are treated well all the time. My reading of the general findings of the International Student Barometer is that the levels of satisfaction of the broader living issues among international students in Australia is weakening, placing us generally in the second and third quartiles (out of 209 global universities) on the measures. 

All stakeholders in international education have responsibilities identified in the Principles. How do we go about ensuring that students are treated properly by each of the stakeholders? The education institutions have responsibility under legislation, but most other stakeholders do not.

One of my concerns is the invisibility of international students, especially in suburban areas. Stakeholders can try to address this.

Also, what are the students’ responsibilities? They are briefly mentioned. But all the content focuses on the stakeholders responsibilities. In my conversations with the people closest to students, they say that too many don’t bother to turn-up at briefing sessions, or decide not to inform them about problems. They cannot be forced.

Finally, I chaired a session on ‘Indonesia in Focus’. It contained three strong presentations by Isla Winarto, David Reeve and Greg Barton on Indonesia’s growing prosperity and the opportunities it opens up for Australian education institutions, businesses and government. (6/10/12)


Five observations about the international marketing of universities’ was the title of a short talk I gave to a conference for Flinders staff during the week. It was organised by the Marketing and Communications Office. (29/9/12)


What with a number of Australian international staff heading to the EAIE2012 meeting in Dublin, it seemed like a good idea for the IRU group of universities to jointly have an alumni event in London en route. We had done something similar last year in Copenhagen, and it worked reasonably well.

It was a hot summer night, and London was throbbing, not least because the Paralympics was in its final stages and people were out on the streets to celebrate it and the Olympics.

This year the alumni reception was held in a bar in Leadenhall St in London’s financial district. About 50 or so turned up, by my estimates. It was good to hear what people were doing. One had taken out British citizenship, others looked fairly well settled in the UK. All talked warmly of their time at Flinders, and especially of their teachers.

There were a couple of short speeches that went over very well with the audience because they were good stories about positive initiatives being undertaken by university people.

James Swanston, a Griffith alumnus, had set up Carbon Voyage (carbonvoyage.com) to help organisations effectively reduce their carbon footprint.

Paul Loftus works with a number of Australian universities, including Flinders. He has established a charity called rhinocrocadillipig (rhinocrocadillipig.org) to raise funds to support charities working with youth in Africa and Vietnam. I was impressed with his energy and achievements, and will talk further about his plans in Dublin. (9/9/12)


The Centre for Higher Education Internationalisation seminar on ‘Teaching in English: the only pathway to internationalisation of Italian higher education?’ was held on the 6th of September at the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. My presentation was on ‘Experiences with teaching non-native English students in Australia’. (6/9/12)


The Flinders International Study Centre (FISC) was formally launched yesterday. A partnership with Study Group Australasia, FISC will have its first intake of students into pathway programs in early 2013. (27/8/12)


Sky News in the UK ran a short piece on the three South Australian universities, pitching for UK students who might like an alternative to studying in the UK. It was a cheeky plan hatched in the SA Agent General’s Office in London. (23/8/12)


Good coverage of Dean Carson’s initiative in Burra: ‘University launches knowledge partnership with Mid North’ by Nick Gibbs in the Clare-based newspaper the Northern Argus. There was also a piece covering the launch of the partnership by Michele Osborn titled ‘Burra to become learning hub’ in the Burra Broadcaster. (8/8/12)


A research project run by the Schools of Nursing in Flinders and Central South University (CSU) in Changsha, China will train health care professionals responsible for the care of dementia sufferers and their families.

A delegation led by Prof He Guoping, Dean of the School of Nursing at CSU, has been at Flinders this week. I gave the welcome speech:

‘It is great to see further development of the links between Flinders and CSU. Dr Lily Xiao, as the Flinders project leader, has played a significant role in getting this going and winning the funding from the Australia China Council.

In both Australia and China we are struggling to improve the way we are coping with an ever expanding, and much older population. I say that as someone from the baby boomer generation. As you would know, we will continue to create a lot of problems for our children, and our children’s children!  And our colleagues, I might add.

Both the Flinders School of Nursing & Midwifery, and the School of Medicine, have developed good links in China with CSU over the last two or three years. There is more to come in the way of cooperation in research and student matters. I understand discussions are still being finalized for a research seminar in October or December.

We are well aware of CSU’s strengths in the health area. In 2010 during a visit to  Changsha I was given a tour of the new Xiangya Hospital soon after it opened. I was told that with 2,500 beds it is one of the largest hospitals in Asia.

Together with Michael Barber, Flinders President, I was also fortunate enough to meet the CSU President, Prof Huang Baiyun. We toured the National Engineering Laboratory for High Speed Railway, and were given a demonstration of the high-speed model trains each travelling at 200kmh in opposite directions. We wanted one for our campus!

Flinders University is committed to building its links in China. Earlier this week we had on campus 26 Chinese university staff as part of the China Australia Middle Managers Program. There was no representative from CSU, but there were from some of Flinders other Chinese partners including Nankai University, Tianjin University and Beijing Normal University.

To sum up. Welcome again to Flinders University. We hope you find your visit here productive and enjoyable, and we look forward to ongoing collaboration.’  (2/8/12)


It is a great pleasure to be in Burra for the launch of the Mid-North Knowledge Partnership. When Dean Carson mentioned he was organising this event I realised it was something I needed to participate in. The countryside looks quite stunning under the bright winter sun.

Let me start with a personal comment.

My mother’s family were Cornish miners. They arrived in South Australia in 1849, having lost two children on the long journey. They moved to Burra in the early 1850s, before travelling on to Moonta in 1862, soon after the mines opened. Their descendants moved to Broken Hill in 1896, completing their 80 year circumnavigation by returning to Adelaide in the early 1930s.

I have visited the region on several occasions and always feel in awe of the historical connection with the Cornish miners and the imprint they left on the landscape.

My purpose in being here today is to support the work of Dean Carson, and to listen and get a better understanding of the area and its current issues.

Flinders University is committed to engaging with our communities. It is the first listed strategy of our nine key strategies.

We also have a broad footprint in Australia, with activities from Port Lincoln across to Renmark and on to Warrnambool, and all the way up the central spine to Alice Springs, Darwin, and Nhulunbuy.

In the last few years our greatest level of engagement with regional communities has been with the southern suburbs of Adelaide. There are over 200 projects listed on our on-line database. Kathryn Anderson is here from the Southern Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Office. She has some booklets that document some of the kinds of work we have been undertaking. You are welcome to have them.

A key principle that underpins what we do is that community engagement involves a knowledge exchange. It is not about a one-way knowledge transfer.

While universities invest in creating new knowledge, the insight we gain from working with professionals, business people, patients and others in the community help shape the knowledge we pursue, and the use to which we put that knowledge.

And our students, of course, gain huge benefits from the experience and skills that come from well designed work-integrated-learning (WIL) programs.

In addition to Dean and Katherine there are a number of people here from Flinders, and they will shortly be talking to you about their projects in the region. I am sure you will find what they have to say of interest. (1/8/12)


The Australia-Africa Universities Network (AAUN) was launched in Canberra on Tuesday. John Hearn and his colleagues at the University of Sydney were the prime movers in getting the AAUN to the launch. Dennis Richardson, the Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and Mohamed Mael-Ainin, Ambassador for Morocco and currently Dean of the African Heads of Mission, spoke at the launch.

The purpose of the AAUN is to facilitate a more strategic approach to building university to university relationships in Africa. Exactly how this will work is still under discussion, but we seem to be making some progress. The Australian government through AusAID and DFAT is supportive, and has been expanding and diversifying the support for students and scientific collaboration. (20/7/12)


Last week I was in China as part of the caravan accompanying the Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill, on his first visit to China. It was a small group mainly made up from the three universities and TAFE. We stopped in Shanghai, followed by Jinan and Beijing. 

The Channel Nine News covered the South Australian universities’ alumni event in Shanghai, giving it a somewhat unexpected slant.

From my perspective, the alumni dinners in both Shanghai and Beijing were exceptionally good. We managed to attract some outstanding Flinders graduates. Our alumni included Junling Liu, who is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Yihaodian (The Store),  a leading e-commerce firm and online store in China. In 2011 the company was recognised by Deloitte as the fastest growing company in the Asia Pacific Region. The other Chinese alumni in the room were surprised to see him at the event; he has celebrity status in China.

It was hot in each of the cities, and many people were on summer holidays. However it helped to keep up our profile and it was important for Jay to get some sense of what the universities are doing in China, and to get a feel for the substantial alumni presence throughout the country.

Australia’s Ambassador to China, Frances Adamson (an alum of the University of Adelaide) joined the group in Jinan. Shandong Province and SA have a sister state/province agreement, despite the disparity in populations. Shandong has 93 million people, SA about 1.6. Nevertheless, the relationship ticks over, with SA long having had an office in Jinan. Flinders connections in Shandong have been more with institutions in Qingdao than in Jinan. (16/7/12)


I presented a paper on ‘Examining the Impact of Transparency in Quality and Standards on International Students’ at a conference in Melbourne yesterday. (16/5/12)


Yesterday I made some Closing Remarks to a joint Anglicare-Flinders University Forum on Building Resilient Communities. The theme is exceptionally important. I was pleased because it was a community organisation and a university joining with community and emergency services experts to engage in the dialogue.

My thoughts on resilience were framed by my research experience, which has centred on strategies for managing large Asian cities (it was a strong theme in our 2011 book Planning Asian Cities: Risks and Resilience).

Cities can be impacted by many kinds of disasters and catastrophic episodes. Razor sharp catastrophes invariably attract the most attention. The devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan’s east coast settlements in March 2011 is a dramatic example. The recent first anniversary of the tsunami underlined the magnitude of the impact on Japanese society.

Just as significant, but without the headline-grabbing coverage in the media, are the catastrophes that result from the slow build-up of problems, and the confluence of multiple disruptive events. Several Asian mega-cities are at risk. Existing environmental problems will be exacerbated by future climate change. (Perhaps the most striking examples in Australia of cumulative problems is the situation in dysfunctional remote indigenous settlements)

The steadily growing populations of Asia’s largest cities spill into vast hinterlands that exacerbate pressures and expose people to new environmental disasters.  Slum housing gravitates to marginal, hazardous areas.  The poor live in the most vulnerable sites, on floodplains and rubbish dumps, or adjacent to polluted waterways. Global warming and climate change increase the vulnerability of these city populations. 

Contemporary disasters are exacerbated by the location of cities. Growing numbers of people live in cities clustered around seismically active areas. Poor land-use planning or environmental mismanagement, and a lack of regulatory mechanisms, both increase the risk and exacerbate the effects of disasters.

Yet there is a reassuring resilience to be found in most urban communities. The evidence is in the continuing functioning of major cities despite doomsday concerns about their excessive size or congestion or fragile environments. Asian cities regularly provide evidence of the ability of human societies to cope with and adapt to changing conditions. 

However we cannot continue to rely on the past record of adaptability or resilience. We must take more decisive steps to mitigate the risks of future disasters, and do what we can to reduce the likely damage of extreme events and the steady build-up of problems.

Adaptive capacity is a product of the social and economic circumstances of a city and its residents. Poverty increases vulnerability and limits the opportunities to recover. Higher levels of public and private wealth potentially provide cities with greater resilience and more scope to engage in effective planning.

Few Asian cities have significant plans in place to manage the consequences of climate change. Singapore is an exception to this, and a city such as Hong Kong has more adaptive capacity than Jakarta or Manila. In the latter cities, corruption and inept urban governments further cramp the actions of planners and their ability to prepare for future disasters.

As the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies argues, building resilience in local communities depends on a strong focus on reducing the magnitude, and impact, of disasters, and adaptation, such as to extreme weather events and climate change. Successful strategies must be embedded within each city's institutional and organizational framework.

Philip Berke advocates a four point framework for enhancing resilience: hazard mitigation plans; a focus on moral rather than actuarial planning; citizen participation in planning for resilience; and recovery planning from the bottom up. 

Fundamentally, it is the combination of effective urban governments and well-organized community groups and structures that is essential. A community’s ability to deal with catastrophes and to bounce back is a consequence of levels of social organization and social capital.

In shaping the resilience strategies for Australian cities we cannot ignore the challenges being faced by the Asian cities to our north. Our country’s economic future, along with our esteem as active global citizens, depends on our willingness and ability to engage with Asia on issues such as disaster mitigation and adaptation. Enhancing individual and community resilience is a significant part of the challenge.

(Closing Remarks. Anglicare-Flinders University Forum on Building Resilient Communities, held at Flinders University Victoria Square, 24th of April 2012)


My website, that is. Not me. Since I launched the site on the 1st of April 2008 (it has recently turned four) it has been hosted on Apple’s MobileMe. It was the simplest arrangement I could find; it was also the web host used by my brother, Grant, a rusted-on Apple user. Then Apple unilaterally announced it was dropping MobileMe and establishing iCloud. And it no longer intended hosting web sites. So much for Apple’s desire for integration. I guess they have their own interpretation of the form the integration takes, and don’t much care what the customer might prefer. We were just told that we had to find a new web host and we had six months to do it. So I migrated to Dreamhost over the weekend: thanks, Katrina. Looking forward to the next four years. (9/4/12)


Here’s a youtube clip of me opening an event to celebrate 34 projects funded by Knowledge Exchange Grants, fondly known as  KEGS. WFlinders put in $350,000; the results of the community partnership programs was simply stunning. (22/3/12)


The Indonesian Students Association at Flinders, known to all as PPIA (Persatuan Pelajar Indonesia Australia), is one of the most active student groups on the campus. February was a big month for them.

The PPI published a book, ISBN number and all, comprised of a series of essays by Flinders Indonesian students. Its title is In Touch: The Perspectives of Indonesian Students in Australia on a Better Indonesia. The University put some money in to it, and I contributed a Foreword.

The PPIA also ran a seminar titled Capitalizing on Flinders Alumni Network in Indonesia. A number of senior staff, including from the alumni and international offices, and a University Council member spoke to the students. It opened up into a dialogue about what it means to be an alumnus, and the kinds of benefits and responsibilities that go with it.

I had some anecdotes about how I connect with my alumni cohort, which included the Council member speaking in my session. Maintaining connections with my former classmates is not my strength, but I regularly meet alumni at alumni events in Indonesia and other countries, including a week or so back in Tokyo. Alumni unfailingly have good memories of Flinders, and enjoy the socializing of these kinds of events. 

The PPI is always an active group, but in the last year or two it has benefitted from the input of Imam Mulyardi. After completing a term on the Flinders Council, he was a driving force behind the book and the seminar; he is also a persistent advocate for the students on Indonesian government research scholarships at Flinders. (20/3/12)


I was a panellist at a ‘Knowledge Intensive Services Business Forum - Globalising South Australian Services’ at the end of February. It was managed by the Department of Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE), which launched the Knowledge Intensive Services: A Strategy for Growth 2012-14 at the event. 

I spoke on my experience of selling education services to China. I asked the audience of over 100 services business representatives: how many of you are engaged in China. Three hands went up. I expected a lot more. (19/3/12)


After landing in Tokyo I passed quickly through immigration formalities. The limousine-bus arrived precisely at the scheduled time. As we departed, also on schedule, the two staff responsible for guiding us onto the bus bowed deeply. Distinctively Japan from the go.

We headed for the Hotel Laforet in upmarket Shinagawa. The International Network of Universities (INU) was holding a Council meeting to plan a significant expansion of the INU’s Hiroshima Global Citizenship and Peace program, one of the most important initiatives of the organization and Hiroshima University. Since its establishment in 2006, 359 INU undergraduates, 47 postgraduates and 30 staff have participated in the program, held to coincide with the annual August commemoration of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

A successful Hiroshima University application to the Reinvesting in Japan Project has brought in an allocation of $US5 million over the next five years to support student and staff mobility within the INU.  The Hiroshima Summer School and Masters class is the focus, but the bid had expanded to include three areas: global citizenship; the environment; and nursing.

All 10 INU universities will participate in the 2012 Global Citizenship and Peace Program. The student seminar theme will be ‘Our (Non) Nuclear Future?’ We were meeting a few days before the anniversary of the tsunami and the heightened concern about the risks associated with nuclear energy in Japan is palpable. The Masters school themes will include nuclear deterrence and disarmament, international policy-making, humanitarian intervention and soft power.

The second program is new. Its’ theme will be ‘Global Environmental Sustainability: Restoration Technology and Management of Coastal Environments’. Eight INU universities will be involved in the summer Masters school. Several universities will look into a double Masters degree arrangement around environmental sustainability.

The third program is also new. Planning has started but the program will not be delivered until 2013. The proposed theme is ‘Nursing: Meeting Public Health Needs’. Six INU universities had expressed an interest, and had sent along professorial delegates. Six themes for undergraduate students are being considered: world trends in health needs and strategies; disaster nursing; advanced practice nursing; chronic disease; maternal and child health; and emergency skills deployed outside the hospital environment.

All ten INU universities were represented at the Council meeting that followed the INU Hiroshima planning meetings: James Madison (USA), Malmo (Sweden), Flinders (Australia), Hiroshima, Ritsumeikan and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific (Japan), Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Italy), Rovira i Virgili (Spain), Kyung Hee (Korea) and Parahyangan (Indonesia).

In between the routine business matters brought to Council were two reports on projects of interest to the INU group. Long term-research conducted in the US through the BEVI Research Program, led by Prof Craig Shealy, measures the impact of internationalization programs on students’ attitudes. The other was the new Centre for Higher Education Internationalisation at Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, led by Prof Hans de Wit. It is planning a project on internationalization indicators for universities and a training program on internationalization.

The Flinders group took advantage of being in Tokyo and met with the Ambassador and Senior Trade Commissioner at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo. We also held a reception for about 30 Japanese alumni of Flinders University, also in the Embassy. The modernist design of the Embassy is rather sparse, yet elegant, and events in Tokyo are always very enjoyable. Two of Flinders first three Japanese graduates attended. All graduated with PhDs in the early 1970s, and went on to significant careers in Japan. (11/3/12)


Visa system puts focus on risk’. Andrew Trouson’s piece in The Australian. (22/2/12)


My presentation on ‘Assessing and Managing Risk in International Education: A Post Knight Review Institutional Perspective’ was presented at a conference in Melbourne yesterday. With many universities having signed up for the post Knight Review changes to the student visa program yesterday, I thought it would be timely to talk about the kinds of risks universities now face, having become proxies for the government in assessing prospective students migration intentions. (15/2/12)


Good WIL for all’ was the title of a Flinders University forum designed to assist university staff increase the number of overseas work integrated learning (WIL) opportunities.

It brought together two important aspects of Flinders educational offerings that provide students with the opportunity for an enriched educational experience. First, through a WIL (and its variants such as service learning) placement, and second, by undertaking the placement overseas, thus providing students with an international experience.

An op-ed piece by Steve Varmos in the Australian Financial Review (6/2/12, p 30) said that ‘building a work skill comprises 70% on-the-job experience, 20% mentoring and 10% formal learning or attending courses’. While he has identified the right factors, I would argue with the percentages. It is more like 50% on-the-job, 30% formal learning and 20% mentoring.

WIL activities are very important, no doubt about it. They contribute to acquiring the all-important on-the-job experience, and facilitate learning how to survive and become comfortable in a demanding professional environment.

Having an international experience as a student is also important. Labour markets are globalised. An increasing proportion of professionals are internationally mobile; many others are engaged internationally from their Australian base. Moreover, we know from several surveys that employers value students international experiences, if only because they are evidence of pro-active behaviour, willingness to take calculated risks, and, generally, resilience.

Combining the two by going abroad to undertake WIL in an international context makes sense.

Flinders has a WIL Policy, a set of Guidelines for the Design of WIL Topics, and Administrative Procedures for Student WIL Placements. We also have a number of programs involving WIL internationally. A couple of those were discussed at the forum. It included the Washington Internship program, which has been running annually since 2000, and has a high profile in Washington.

Some WIL placements are arranged by Flinders staff (or students, on occasions) directly with Host Organisations. There is also a proliferation of companies (agents for host organisations, is the reference in our policy) that can facilitate this service. AIC (Academic Internship Council) is one example. This year seven Flinders students (five domestic and two international) will undertake internships facilitated by this group.

The numbers across the University will be much larger, with the health sciences the most active. Nutrition and dietetics students can work in Singapore; public health students have been engaged in youth support in tsunami-ravaged villages in Tamil Nadu; and medical students go to all sorts of places. My hope is that we can give more of our students the opportunity to undertake their WIL abroad. (14/2/12)


Late last year I spoke to a lively group undertaking the Copland Leadership Program. I told my story about ‘Digital Technology and Leadership Practice’. It got a good response around the table, and we had some spirited exchanges. I sensed that most had engaged with social media but had not really embraced it in their workplaces, or thought much about how it could be part of leadership.

The session was convened by Geoff Anderson, an Associate Professor at Flinders. Sadly Geoff passed away a few days after the seminar. (4/2/12)


There were two standout books for me in 2011. Both were biographical and both key figures passed away in 2011. No surprises I guess (neither Kim Jung-il or Muammar Gaddafi came close).

I bought Christopher Hitchens Hitch-22. A Memoir (Allen & Unwin, London, 2010) early last year and read it immediately. There are just a few writers/musicians for whom I have felt a sustained admiration; Leonard Cohen; Graham Greene; J.K. Galbraith.  Having long been a reader of Hitchen’s work and after finishing Hitch-22 I added Christopher Hitchens to the list.

Hitchens’ book interested me for two reasons. First, he has some foreign correspondent credentials, and I admire good newspaper foreign correspondents and non-fiction story-tellers. Second, because he shifted his political ground, distancing himself from his Marxist and leftist international socialist period. He became highly critical of the left, and significantly more appreciative of those who grappled with significant foreign policy dilemmas. Hitchens was a self-proclaimed ‘contrarian’ (p 387), but he was much more than just a contrarian.

I had mixed feelings about the outpouring of emotion which followed Hitchen’s passing. Many former friends on the left were inclined to put the boot in. Others, I thought, may not have read much of what Hitchens had written, but were drawn by his fame. He had, perhaps, been  Bono-ised.

I think he overwrote. He was a show-off, and it grates. He was a chronic name-dropper and besotted with the cleverness of himself and his friends. It was especially evident in the chapter on Martin Amis. But it is a passionate book, and his writing is fearless and brilliant at times.

The second was Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs (Hachette Digital, London, 2011). It is a long book of 907 digital pages. I have heard it described as a hagiography, but that is unfair. It tells a long and detailed story about Jobs, who comes across as self-centred, rude, inconsiderate, and a great exploiter of those with whom he worked. Could he have achieved all that he did if he had a different approach? The issue will continue to be debated by those interested in leadership models and strategies.

Jobs’ ‘reality distortion field’ enabled him to achieve significant breakthroughs but also brought about some dismal failures. He was inclined to blame them on others. However, his impact on information technology was enormous, as we all know. His sense of design was simply outstanding. 

I use a range of Apple products, having abandoned the Microsoft et al families about five years ago. Jobs has successfully locked consumers like me into particular technology, and created barriers to prevent crossing-over into new products evolving out of un-connected companies. Up until now, the benefits have outweighed the costs of the integration model. That will inevitably change in the future. The result for many of us will be a painful re-organisation of our ever-expanding digital assets.

Isaacson has written a narrative that strikes a comfortable balance between the two sides of Job’s career.  It is a cracking read.

I haven’t thought much about connections between Hitchens and Jobs. But one commonality is worthy of comment. Both lived in the USA; Jobs was born there (though his father was an immigrant) and Hitchens moved there from the UK, and took out citizenship. In the midst of all the political hullabaloo the US remains a land of opportunity (I know it’s a cliché) for talented immigrants and their offspring. In a world that is increasingly fearful of the consequences of cross-border migration, this point should not be forgotten. (1/1/12)

Making a Difference: Australian International Education

edited by Dorothy Davis and Bruce Mackintosh (UNSW Press, Sydney, 2011)

Planning Asian Cities: Risks and Resilience

Edited by Stephen Hamnett and Dean Forbes (Routledge, London,  2011)

MEDIA commentary 2012

‘Fewer try entry to university’, by Sheradyn Holderhead, The Advertiser, 7 December 2012.

China overtakes US as our top ‘knowledge partner’’, by Bernard Lane, The Australian, 28 November 2012.

‘Unis are leading charge for choice’, by Sheradyn Holderhead, The Advertiser, 6 October 2012.

‘Regulator must value 'international nuance', by Andrew Trounson, The Australian, 3 October 2012. (see here also)

‘Overseas students offered pathways to Flinders’, by Sheradyn Holderhead, The Advertiser, 28 August 2012.

‘It’s the US and them’, by Ken McGregor, The Advertiser, 10 August 2012.

Are the ties between Australia and the US weakening in preference to China?’ Ken McGregor, Perth Now, 9 August 2012

University launches knowledge partnership with Mid North’ by Nick Gibbs, Northern Argus, 8 August 2012.

Visa system puts focus on risk’, by Andrew Trounson, The Australian, 22 February 2012.


  1. Bullet Moleskine

  2. Bullet Finishing up as DVC

  3. Bullet Indigenous student scholarships

  4. Bullet 43 years

  5. Bullet The Asian Century

  6. Bullet MFDP

  7. Bullet IEAA Award

  8. Bullet Damocles sword

  9. Bullet Marketing internationally

  10. Bullet London alumni

  11. Bullet Language and internationalisation

  12. Bullet FISC

  13. Bullet 300 days of sunshine

  14. Bullet Mid-North Knowledge Partnership 2

  15. Bullet Managing dementia

  16. Bullet Mid-North Knowledge Partnership 1

  17. Bullet Africa network

  18. Bullet China notes

  19. Bullet Quality and standards

  20. Bullet Building resilience

  21. Bullet Migrating

  22. Bullet Knowledge exchange

  23. Bullet Indonesian students association

  24. Bullet Knowledge intensive services

  25. Bullet Global citizenship

  26. Bullet Visa risk

  27. Bullet Managing visa change risks

  28. Bullet Good WIL for all

  29. Bullet Copland Leadership Program

  30. BulletHitchens and Jobs