Professor Warren Bebbington

Welcome to my blog: I look forward to hearing from you and reading your comments about our University. I hope this becomes a great melting pot for intellectual ideas, views and debate and I welcome all of your contributions.

Today, I was pleased to welcome the Minister for Education to the University’s student accommodation facility, The Village, for the launch of the Federal Government’s draft National Strategy for International Education.

This document is timely and compelling, and offers new ways to improve Australia’s capacity to attract and support the nation’s 4th largest export industry. It also explores measures to address some of the irritants that impact overseas students such as transport, accommodation and health services issues.

It was particularly good to hear from two of our current students this morning who spoke well of their own learning experience at Adelaide and living in South Australia.

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Last night the Senate rejected Minister Pyne’s amended higher education reform package. Deregulation of fees, even without the proposed 20% funding cut, did not pass.

Students will thus not be asked to pay more. But neither will the taxpayer: those who struck down the reforms have offered no alternatives from the public purse to help close our widening funding gap.

Group of Eight universities like ours are the hardest hit by the current funding arrangements. The courses most drastically underfunded–medicine, dentistry, and vet science for example–are concentrated in the Go8. The courses most difficult to make commercially viable–those that address our artistic and cultural heritage for example–survive chiefly within the Go8. And the lion’s share of the nation’s research, much of it desperately under-resourced, also resides in the Go8.

For the sector as a whole, a larger problem remains. With uncapped enrolment costs accelerating beyond available funds, the Australian university system is in danger of entering a fiscal famine: the slow starvation of a sector that generates the nation’s third largest export.

For the University of Adelaide, we remain committed to a vision of small group teaching and excellent, better-resourced research, while recognising this vision will now take longer to realise.

But we cannot be content with where things now stand.

Both major political parties now intend to make higher education funding a major issue at the next Federal Election. As that election approaches, I will work with both sides of politics, through the Group of Eight and as Deputy Chair of Universities Australia, to see that real, long-term, sector-wide reform ultimately prevails.




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Annual Memorial and Dedication Service for the Body Donor Program

Wednesday 4 March 2015


On behalf of the three universities in South Australia, the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia – I welcome you to this special annual memorial and dedication service, now in its 18th year.

In particular, I’d like to welcome the family and friends of those most generous individuals who donated their bodies to medical science – the people we are remembering today.

Through such a selfless act, your family members… your loved ones… have given our students precious opportunities as we educate a new generation of medical researchers and health care professionals.

To the new students with us today, in your first week of formal classes–this service is as important an occasion as your final exams or your graduation ceremony.

It is a unique event that will remain with you during your university days, and long into your career, no matter what pathway you choose.

As new scholars in health sciences, you each carry a special responsibility.

A responsibility―indeed a pledge― that is unlike any other academic discipline.

As part of your training, you pledge to be completely transparent at all times…

You pledge to be empathetic, compassionate and respectful…

And you pledge to always recognise the rare privilege it is to serve humanity through your education and your future work.

As new students you are invited to this service because you have now joined an academy that is bound by trust, goodwill and accountability.

Trust and goodwill is what allows us to continue our grand work–the work that changes lives for the better every day–in our medical, dental and nursing schools, and in our research institutes.

The work that has been led by our distinguished graduates … Braggs, Florey, Hetzel, Mayo and Warren among so many others.

The great work that is only possible because of the people we remember at this service… the donors and their extraordinary gift to us.

These individuals have shown unparalleled trust in our capacity to make a difference…an unwavering trust in science that reaches far beyond life.

It is a faith in humanity that we must protect and cherish always.

We dedicate tonight’s service to the memory of each and every body donor.

This occasion gives us, the staff and students of the South Australian universities, the opportunity to say a heartfelt “thank you”.

I want to take a moment to share with you a short note from one of our body donor family members.

I’m sure it will resonate with many of you as you recall the enormity of coming to terms with a loved one’s choice to become a body donor, and the mixed emotions that such a decision invokes for those closest to that person, often under very difficult circumstances.

This family member recounts: “For five years he fought a good fight…with all of the family supporting him to live life as best he could.  His final wish was to be accepted (into the body donor program) and we find this is helping us to keep on going…”

To the families and friends here tonight, this service brings you all together through such a profound connection.

I acknowledge how incredibly hard this must be for you – whether this is your first attendance at our memorial service, or you have been many times before.

There is nothing that we can say, or do, to lessen your grief… your deep sense of loss and sadness.

But I hope that in some small way, as we salute the memory of your loved ones, we can perhaps offer a little comfort, and maybe even some closure.

Always know that as individuals, and as an academy, we remain forever in your debt.  It is a debt that has infinite value, and one that will endure through the life-work of our best and brightest students, under the tutelage of our most brilliant and dedicated staff.

Universities are known as institutions of discovery… we explore…we create…we seek new knowledge and we aim to improve the human condition.

But perhaps more than anything else, we hope to inspire.  I cannot think of a greater source of inspiration than the noble act of body donation.

As Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide, I promise you that we will always honour our responsibility to your family.

I leave you with a line from The Poet…

“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”

We remember your loved ones with deep, deep gratitude.

And we thank you for joining us tonight as we to pay tribute to their selfless gift to our academic community.

Thank you.



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It was wonderful to welcome delegates from Latin America for a symposium at the University of Adelaide and co- hosted with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet together with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Council on Australia Latin America Relations. –wb  

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I welcome the Premier Weatherill’s bold vision and agenda announced in the Governor’s speech today at the opening of State Parliament. Our academics will look forward to contributing their expertise to such initiatives as the creation of an Adelaide Green Zone, the review of discrimination through our SA Law Reform Institute, and the Royal Commission [...]

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VALE: Sir David Watson Principal of Green Templeton College and Professor of Higher Education at the University of Oxford I was saddened to learn that Sir David Watson, one of the world’s most distinguished experts on higher education, passed away after a short illness on Monday. Sir David visited the University of Adelaide only last [...]

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We congratulate Chancellor Kevin Scarce on his appointment as Royal Commissioner investigating opportunities for nuclear storage, uranium enrichment and power creation. As the State’s leading research-intensive university, with international expertise in mining, alternative energy and environmental issues, we are very well-placed to support this Royal Commission. We also recognise there will be very divergent views, [...]

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Last month I was pleased to launch a book honouring the vision of our first vice-chancellor:  Augustus Short and the Founding of the University of Adelaide, which was commissioned by the University from Short’s biographer Michael Whiting. Much has been written about this extraordinary man’s role establishing St Peters College, the St Peter’s Cathedral, and [...]

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Today it was announced that the University of Adelaide has been awarded the State Government’s contract to provide its public dental service for the next 30 years. A partnership agreement will see a new 90-chair SA Dental Service clinic constructed as part of the University’s medical and nursing schools building in the SA Health and [...]

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It is White Ribbon Day today, a critical campaign seeking to bring to an end any form of violence against women here in Australia and overseas.  In my view, a tolerant and civilised society which respects the rights of the individual has absolutely no place for violence against women, or children.  This morning, 700 people [...]

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