Rethinking university governance

Higher education globally is being transformed due to multiple pressures of climate change, AI, international conflict, shifting geopolitics, rising middle class aspirations, precarious work and the spread of misinformation. In this context, the unique role of universities is central to democracies. How universities are governed is therefore even more critical in terms of protecting intellectual integrity, academic freedom and offering safe and secure workplaces which enable equity in and quality of teaching and research. Taking up the challenge of the Australian University Accord regarding the need to improve university governance, this conference provides an analysis of contemporary university governance and what it could look like for a sustainable and just higher education.


University governance – Critical futures

Professor Sue Wright, Danish School of Education, Aarhus University

University governance is arguably critical to the ability of the university community – students, academics, staff and leaders – to mobilise their resources to use their research and teaching to address critical issues such as climate change, to inequalities arising from colonialism and globalisation, conflicts, and massive population movements. This keynote argues governance is the relations that articulate government with university boards, boards with leaders, leaders with academics and staff, and all with students. It tracks changes in governance in different countries that have had similar effects of executive aggrandisement and disempowering or alienating academics, staff and students. Finally, it asks how the university’s core members can regain the capacity to shape their institution and refocus their daily work and the leadership it requires by providing examples of academic and student organising in Europe to re-think approaches to critical issues and alternative faculty-wide processes to develop education for a green and just transition.


This symposium is s hosted by the Education, Governance and Policy for Sustainable Societies research theme and the Australian Association of University Professors.


Professor Sue Wright

Sue Wright is Professor of Educational Anthropology and Co-Director of the Centre for Higher Education Futures (CHEF) at the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University. She studies people’s participation in large-scale processes of political transformation and has researched higher education and university reforms for 35 years in UK and Denmark, developing concepts of audit culture, governance, and the anthropology of policy. Her recent books are Shore and Wright 2024 Audit Culture. How Indicators and Rankings are Reshaping the World (Pluto).


9.30 am—4.00 pm Monday 1 July 2024


Deakin Downtown and online via Zoom

Date: 1 July 2024 Cost: Free
Venue: Deakin Downtown Level 12 Tower 2, Collins Square 727 Collins Street, Docklands View location
Attend online Join via Zoom