Nobel-Prize winning astrophysicist and ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt chose the university’s 70th birthday celebrations today to announce two operational changes that will send ripples through the higher education sector here and overseas: In the future half of all senior leadership roles at the university will be filled by women, and its students will be all-rounders, rather than being chosen for their academic achievements alone.
Professor Schmidt used a speech at Llewellyn Hall to announce that the university would move away from judging students only on their year 12 ATAR results, saying the ANU would lead the nation in changing the way universities admit students by factoring in their co-curricular and community contributions.
“Students applying to ANU will be considered on the whole person, not just their ATAR score,” he said.
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“We want to be a university that brings students from across the country, the region, the world, from all social backgrounds and all economic circumstances, and brings them together in a community of learning that gives them the grounding and confidence to change the world.”
The Vice-Chancellor said the university’s scholarship program would be national and take into account outstanding academic results, non-academic achievement and financial need.
“These changes will be implemented over the next couple of years, and will enable students applying to ANU to also apply for scholarships and accommodation, all at the same time,” he said.
Professor Schmidt committed to the 50-50 hiring policy for senior jobs at the ANU, including Deans, Directors and Head of Schools, the University Executive and administrative executives during his speech at Llewellyn Hall today.
He said ANU would also introduce start-up grants to help it attract high-potential early and mid-career researchers.
“These funds will also give these researchers the freedom to embark on their big ideas at the height of their creativity, free of the constraints of overly conservative grant funding,” he said.
The VC also announced that the ANU will introduce a suite of courses and degrees on entrepreneurship catering to undergraduates to existing professionals, and will appoint a new Business and Industry Advisory Board to advise on how the University can improve its links with business.
He said Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer had agreed to serve as Chair of the Business and Industry Advisory Board.
A new Distinguished Educator award would recognise outstanding teaching at the University, and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship program for Indigenous PhD graduates would set out to develop academic careers and strengthen and generate research on Indigenous issues.
Pictured are ANU students assisting Chancellor Gareth Evans (right) and Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt to cut the birthday cake.