Message from President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs - 5 October 2018

05 Oct 2018
President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Jacobs


I am delighted to start this newsletter with my congratulations to Martin Green on receiving the Global Energy Prize at a ceremony in Moscow last night. Martin is the first Australian to receive the award, and it cements his position as the leading photovoltaics researcher in the world.

We also heard this week the good news that four UNSW academics have been elected Fellows of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA). Professor Denise Doiron from the School of Economics, Professor Jacob Goeree from the School of Economics and the UNSW Business School, Professor Rosemary Rayfuse from the Faculty of Law, and Professor Derrick Silove AM from the School of Psychiatry, have each been recognised with this prestigious honour. 

The performance of these and other stellar UNSW academics is reflected in our steady rise in global university rankings. Last week we received the last of the three international university rankings for this year which we use to benchmark UNSW – the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking. Overall this year, UNSW has risen seven places on the average of the three rankings. Although we fell by 11 places in the THE to 96th, we rose an unprecedented 31 places to 102nd in the ARWU ranking and held our place at 45th in the QS. So, we will finish 2018 as 81st globally, the highest ranking in the history of UNSW.

In other positive news, UNSW has received five-star ratings against a number of key indicators in the 2018/2019 Good Universities Guide. The analysis found that we sit in the top group for employability, with more than three-quarters of our graduates (77.5 per cent) entering full-time employment within four months of graduating. We also received a top rating for student-teacher ratio, staff qualification, student retention and student demand.

I made a brief visit to Fiji at the beginning of the week with Professor Heather Worth, Academic co-lead for the Institute for Global Development’s work in the Pacific. We had valuable discussions with Fiji National University and the University of the South Pacific about collaborative work in health and renewable energy and completed agreements to facilitate staff and student exchange.

An important event during the past fortnight was welcoming to UNSW the renowned philosopher, Daniel Dennett, to deliver the 2018 Wallace Wurth Lecture. A packed Clancy Auditorium was treated to his reflections on aspects of the nature of consciousness. If you missed the lecture, you can watch the recording here. Congratulations to Ann Mossop and her team from the Centre for Ideas for delivering a truly memorable event.

It was a pleasure to spend last Friday afternoon in Paddington at the Art and Design Faculty Showcase. The quality and range of work by staff and students was impressive, including research in data visualisation in the EPICentre, the 3D visualisation aesthetics lab, creative robotics and student activity in the Makerspace. Some members of the management board took the opportunity to be hands on in the ceramics facility – with mixed results! The Showcase coincided with the opening of UNSW Galleries’ spring exhibitions: The John Fries Award, the Freedman Travelling Scholarship exhibition, Kynan Tan: Processing Data, David Eastwood: the Posthumous Studio, Chelsea Lehmann: The Articulate Surface, and Beth Dillon: Been There, Done That. The exhibition is open to staff and external vistors who will be welcome to visit the Paddington campus.

Congratulations to Louise Taylor, UNSW Indigenous Law Centre Associate, who has been appointed as an ACT Magistrate. This appointment is significant as she is the Territory’s first Aboriginal magistrate. Louise will bring a wealth of experience to the role, having worked in advocacy as the Deputy CEO of Legal Aid ACT and in offices of the Commonwealth and ACT Directors of Public Prosecutions.

Thanks and congratulations to Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Geoff Crisp, and everyone who contributed to last Thursday’s Inspired Learning Summit. I heard that the day was a powerful demonstration of the expertise and enthusiasm our staff bring to creating the best possible learning environment for students at UNSW. This year’s theme was ‘Students as Partners’, reflecting our commitment to working alongside students to shape their educational and career pathways as part of our Scientia Education Experience. You can read a recap of the Summit in this edition of Inside UNSW.

Finally, another reminder to get along to the Meet the New Professor lectures when you can. Professor Pauline Grosjean and Professor Shayne Gary from the UNSW Business School will present next Wednesday, and, Professor Deborah Healey and Professor Michael Legg from the Law Faculty will deliver their lectures on Monday week.

Best wishes,