Universities have great stories to tell – our future success depends on how we share them

Most universities protect and maintain their reputations, and for good reason. This is not done out of vanity, but because our reputation makes a significant difference in how others choose to engage with us. A good reputation makes us more attractive to students and staff, it opens doors for collaboration and influence for change, and it increases the opportunities available to our students. It reflects what we do well and maybe also not so well.

This work is now more important than ever. For all of us, the challenges of Covid-19 are, of course, a priority. But even as we face these immediate challenges, it’s crucial to plan for longer-term changes, such as those brought about by the impact of technology on teaching, learning, and research.

My experience in managing the Australian public broadcasting network informs me that our future competitors will not necessarily be those we know today; these will be new players from places we don’t expect. Over the next decade, we should expect continued disruption in our industry.

Fortunately, universities are uniquely positioned to meet the challenges of the future; At its core, our mission is to create and share new knowledge that improves people’s lives.

Across the world, academics have worked closely with their governments and industry to provide expertise and inform policy, and I have seen many wonderful stories that exemplify the adaptability and ingenuity that staff and students have demonstrated during this crisis.

One of the results of this pandemic has been a better understanding of the role of research in all disciplines and the impact that multidisciplinary teams can have when working together to tackle challenges. From early work to identify the virus and treatment options to the development of life-saving vaccines, experts in public health, infectious diseases and clinical care have worked tirelessly for the good of society.

How we continue to share these stories with government, industry and an increasingly skeptical audience will be fundamental to our common future success.

I am optimistic that we can do it. Our institutions have been around for a long time and have already faced adversity, including other historic pandemics as well as world wars. So while these are troubling times, there is a way through.

This is something I keep in mind. After many months of avoiding the worst, Sydney and other parts of Australia are in a long period of lockdown as our government works hard to increase vaccination rates. I started my tenure as Vice Chancellor on Zoom and my first formal meeting was a discussion on how we are protecting our teachers, researchers, staff and students from the impact of the Covid-19 Delta strain.

As we rise to this challenge, I will focus on developing a new long-term strategy for the university, one that builds on our strengths and reputation and protects our institution in the face of future challenges. The strategy will outline how we plan to continue to support our world-renowned researchers and faculty and ensure that our students have a truly transformational experience during their time with us.

My experience as a student in Sydney culminated in an arts degree which prepared me for a future career in different industries and roles, a chance meeting with my future wife and long-standing friendships. It has changed my life and this is the kind of experience I want for every University of Sydney student.

Our students give us up to four, if not more, of the most important years of their lives. We need to do everything we can to make their time with us transformative, not only because of what they will do after they leave, but because of the people they meet, the knowledge they gain and the skills they gain. they develop. By the time they graduate, they should be equipped not only for their first job, but for the rest of their lifetimes as learners.

This must include learning to collaborate, and a reflection of the value we place on this is that we have made collaboration across subject areas and with external partners a key part of our undergraduate degrees. In Sydney, every undergraduate student has the opportunity to work with academics, industry, and other stakeholders to solve real-world problems, and this work counts toward their final degree. To facilitate this, we have established partnerships with businesses, governments and community organizations in Australia, India, China, Japan, Italy, France, United States and United Kingdom.

I firmly believe that collaboration, as opposed to competition, is vital. We have great examples of partnerships with other universities, industry, community and governments and I look forward to understanding how we can leverage this work to ensure we share the collective benefits and resources with our larger communities.

One example is our Sydney Knowledge Hub, where we provide an on-campus co-working space for innovative start-ups, nonprofits and businesses looking to collaborate with our researchers and students. A recent project developed at the center includes a revolutionary device to help save babies who have trouble breathing at birth. More than one million babies die of asphyxiation at birth worldwide and this low-cost pediatric device and training system aims to dramatically reduce that number. The team, led by two biomedical students and hospital clinicians, has secured funding and plans to roll it out in developing countries, as well as Australia.

In another long-term partnership with Microsoft, our researchers are positioning Australia at the forefront of the quantum revolution. This partnership represents the largest investment in quantum computing ever made in Australia. Based in our Nanoscience Hub, Microsoft’s Quantum Lab is one of five experimental facilities around the world that Microsoft has invested in, where academics and students work alongside company staff. Their work will eventually change the way we live, work and play.

It is stories like these that will ensure that we are well equipped to meet future challenges and that will strengthen our reputation for transformational teaching and learning and groundbreaking research that is changing the world for good.

Mark Scott is Vice-Chancellor and Director of the University of Sydney.

The Times Higher Education The world-renowned rankings will be released at 1 p.m. BST on October 27. The results will be unveiled exclusively at the THE Leadership & Management Summit, where Professor Scott will speak on post-Covid civic leadership.

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