AFR Higher Education Awards

AFR Higher Education Awards 2016 Winners

The Australia Financial Review proudly hosted the 2nd annual AFR Higher Education Awards on November 16, 2016. Presented by UniSuper, the Awards were an initiative to highlight at a national level the tremendous contribution that the Higher Education sector makes to Australian prosperity and quality of life.

The Awards were judged by an independent panel of eminent Higher Education veterans.

One of Australia's highest profile young academics, Emma Johnston, won the Emerging Leader Award.

Professor Johnston, who is pro vice-chancellor (research) at UNSW Australia, a marine ecologist and was the co-presenter of the television series Coast Australia, was honoured for her scientific work, her public voice and her strength as a role model.
Emerging Leader award is a new category awarded for the first time this year.

Seven universities were also honoured as winners of seven other categories in the awards, which are sponsored by UniSuper.

Community Engagement

Sponsored by Top Education Institute in alliance with PwC

Queensland University of Technology - National Exceptional Teaching for Disadvantaged Schools (NETDS) program.

The judges said: "This initiative engages with disadvantaged students, schools and their broader communities in a way that is highly effective and beneficial for all involved parties.

"QUT is to be commended for its collaborative, long-term approach to the vital task of narrowing the educational gap in Australia."


Sponsored by Pearson

The University of Queensland - Student Employability Team: getting students SET for their future

The judges said: "The University of Queensland is to be commended for its systemic, embedded approach to boosting employability, and the demonstrable results it has produced.

"Employability is going be an increasingly important issue in the years ahead, and the judging panel encourages more applicants next year to focus on employability strategies and initiatives which demonstrate measurable outcomes."

Equity and Opportunity

Sponsored by YourTutor

Charles Sturt University - Outreach Team

The judges said: "Thanks to its superb Outreach Team, Charles Sturt University truly leads the sector when it comes to improving educational access, opportunities and outcomes for students from regional and remote areas - still one of the most disadvantaged and underserved groups in Australia."

Facilities Innovation

Flinders University - New Plaza and Student Hub

The judges said: "The judging panel recognises the Flinders New Plaza and Student Hub as an impressive project that has truly delivered on its aims - genuinely transforming the heart of a campus, enhancing the student and staff experience, and significantly improving the overall functioning of the university."

Emerging Leader Award

Sponsored by Perrett Laver Professor Emma Johnston FRSN, UNSW Australia

The judges said: "Professor Johnston has not only distinguished herself within her discipline and her institution, but has also emerged as a highly influential voice in the broader public realm." An exceptional researcher, educator, science communicator, policy advisor and powerful advocate for the sector, she is a true role model for future generations of higher education leaders.

Industry Engagement

Sponsored by TechnologyOne

The University of Sydney - Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) The judges said: "In an area that will only continue to grow in importance for the Australian economy, the ACFR has clearly been very successful in securing the buy-in of major industry partners and creating deep, sustainable and mutually beneficial research relationships that already have an impressive track record of results."

International Education

Sponsored by Raw Talent

Monash University - The Monash Warwick Alliance

The judges said: "The unprecedented breadth and depth of the alliance between Monash University and the University of Warwick has already won it considerable international admiration and prestige. Delivering a huge sweep of benefits for both partners, the alliance constitutes an outstanding model for global partnerships and the internationalisation of education."

Learning Experience

Western Sydney University - The Academy

The judges said: "A truly inspiring initiative to broaden and enrich the educational experience for high-achieving students - and in the process, create the next generation of thoughtful, active and socially aware leaders and citizens."

Lifetime Achievement Award

Sponsored by UniSuper

As announced on October 29, the winner is Professor Denise Bradley AC, who headed the federal government's 2008 Review of Australian Higher Education and is a former vice-chancellor of the University of South Australia.
The judges said: "In a career spanning more than four decades Denise Bradley has exerted tremendous influence on Australian higher education policy and practice as a teacher, a policy adviser, an administrator and a university leader.
"Professor Bradley stood out as a candidate for the Lifetime Achievement Award because of the breadth, depth and weight of her contributions. Notably, her leadership of the 2008 Review of Australian Higher Education led to educational opportunities for tens of thousands of Australians who otherwise would not have had the chance to attend university."
The judging panel for the awards, chaired by Financial Review education editor Tim Dodd, comprised:

  • Stuart Hamilton AO, former CEO of Open Universities Australia
  • Adrian McComb, CEO of the Council of Private Higher Education
  • Chris Madden AO, former pro vice-chancellor (international) of Griffith University
  • Andrew Norton, higher education program director at the Grattan Institute and member of the expert panel advising the Turnbull government on higher education reform
  • Lisa Paul OA PSM, former head of the federal Department of Education and Training
  • Alan Robson AO, former vice-chancellor of the University of WA
  • Sally Walker AM, former vice-chancellor of Deakin University and member of the expert panel advising the Turnbull government on higher education reform


UniSuper is Australia's dedicated superannuation fund for people working in the higher education and research sector. With approximately 400,000 members and around $50 billion in net assets under management, we're one of Australia's largest super funds.

For more than 30 years, UniSuper has worked alongside Australia's universities and research institutes delivering high quality, value-for-money retirement saving products and services. We are proud of the contribution the higher education sector makes in Australia and are thrilled to be the presenting partner at this year's AFR Higher Education Awards.

YourTutor empowers 21st century learners to achieve their academic goals with world-class, sustainable, and scalable academic support that's independent from place or time.
With 13 years of data-driven provisioning, and an exclusive, stringently managed network of expert tutors, YourTutor has been trusted by educators to engage University, School, or VET students with personalised support online to turn moments of frustration and low confidence into study success.
"I believe your feedback is the reason I didn't quit my course at census date."
Bachelor of Education student, 2016

Commercial relationships that are genuinely reciprocal, mutually beneficial and highly valued by both partners, along with the spirit of innovation. These are the principals that embody TechnologyOne's approach to business and our collaboration with Australian tertiary educators. Our team is extremely proud to support the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Award for Industry Engagement.

Pearson is the world's largest learning company. With 35,000 employees in more than 80 countries, we have a simple mission: to help people of all ages and stages make progress in their lives through learning. Here in Australia, we provide learning materials, technologies, assessments, resources and services to educators, learners, government bodies and institutions to support learning any time, anywhere.

We're very excited to be sponsors of the AFR Higher Education Summit and of the Employability Award, helping learners across Australia aim higher and fulfil their true potential. Because wherever learning flourishes, so do people.

Perrett Laver is a leading executive search firm specialising in Higher Education, Global Development and Not-for-Profits, and the Health and Social Care sectors globally. We recognise the importance of identifying emerging leaders, and nurturing and developing this talent to ensure the future of the Higher Education sector in Australia and around the world.

We are proud to sponsor the 2016 AFR Higher Education Summit and the Perrett Laver Emerging Leader Award, and to support the identification and recognition of our leaders of tomorrow.

Raw Talent partners with Educators, Students and Employers to facilitate a successful transition from Education to Employment.

Offering a range of effective Employability solutions, we work with our Higher Education partners to offer embedded Employability Programs, complemented by a range of targeted career development services that boost Graduate employment outcomes. For our Industry Partners we deliver Graduate Recruitment and Development solutions, supporting our Employers to access the best Graduate talent and to better connect with our University partners on talent initiatives.

With deep expertise in Graduate Employability, we deliver differentiated solutions that achieve genuine results.


Top Education Institute has been a leader in innovative private higher education since its inception in 2001 and is based in Australian Technology Park, Sydney.
TOP offers undergraduate and postgraduate level degrees in Business and Law areas. Following the success of its Business School, TOP unveiled its Bachelor of Laws degree in 2015.
As the first private provider to be fully accredited for the Bachelor of Laws (LLB), TOP is a figurehead in the Australian higher education market.
Earlier this year, PwC acquired a 15% stake in TOP. PwC and TOP Education also entered into a long-term alliance agreement.
Under the alliance, PwC will work closely with TOP to deliver initiatives including tertiary student career development, 'smart campus' and digital education solutions.