The University of Notre Dame’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, Professor Margot Kearns, joined the tertiary education sector's most esteemed thought-leaders and disruptors at the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Summit in Brisbane this week.
Professor Kearns was invited to sit on a panel discussing the challenges facing private tertiary education providers in Australia, how they differ from public universities and what other institutions can learn from Notre Dame’s approach to education. The panel also included Professor Justin Beilby, Vice-Chancellor of Torrens University, Professor Paul Oslington, Dean of Business at Alphacrucis College, and Professor Tim Brailsford, Vice-Chancellor and President at Bond University.
“Notre Dame University is consistently ranked among the best in Australia for overall student satisfaction in the Federal Government’s Quality Indicators for Learning & Teaching (qilt.edu.au) and the summit was a great opportunity for us to share with the wider sector how we achieve such great results,” says Margot.
When asked about what differentiates Notre Dame from other institutions, Margot observed that, “Private institutions are generally smaller than the public universities so they can actually be a bit more nimble and offer things that perhaps, because of their scale, larger universities cannot. For example, all our incoming students get assigned a senior student mentor, they get industry mentors in some cases – it’s very much a personal approach.”
Professor Kearns added that, as a faith-based institution, Notre Dame aims to educate the whole person by offering each student an introduction to the liberal arts and delivering education within an ethical, philosophical and theological framework. “We heard a lot about skills shortages during the conference and whether we need ‘hand, head or heart’ skills. I think we cover all these at Notre Dame and students come out at the end with more than just a piece of paper or a career; they have a sense of purpose and a sense of where they fit in society and what they can contribute.”
A range of other topical issues were tackled over the two-day conference, such as academic freedom and freedom of speech on campus, the role international students play in the university environment and the future of research. The Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, addressed the conference and highlighted the need to better align universities and industry to maximise the value of research.