Boyden Executive Search

Recently appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England, Professor Brigid Heywood, joins us in the pod to discuss her new role, the impact of regional universities, her journey through academia and how technology and internationalisation is impacting the Education sector.

By Alun Parry

Recently appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England, Professor Brigid Heywood, joins us in the pod to discuss her new role, the impact of regional universities, her journey through academia and how technology and internationalisation is impacting the Education sector.

Brigid describes herself as someone who likes to dream big and looking at the trajectory of her career, there is no disputing that. Becoming a leader in her academic discipline early in her career, she soon progressed into management and her leadership roles have taken her around the world; from her native Hull and her studies in Liverpool to the US, Africa, South East Asia, New Zealand and now regional Australia.

Over the course of her career, Brigid has gained an understanding of the pivotal part that universities play in regenerating the social, economic and cultural fabric of cities and regions. Working in both the UK and internationally, Brigid saw the sector from a wide variety of lenses and believes that today’s universities have an institutional role, as well as an educational one.

“[My experience has given] me a whole new vision of universities as an agent for change in the community and the way in which Education, in its many different facets, can be a real driver of that,” she says. She emphasises the importance of “[wiring] the power of universities into the fabric of communities who need employment, education, knowledge sharing and knowledge creation […] to be the driver of innovation.”

One of the key issues affecting the Education sector is internationalisation; something that has become important to every university in Australia, and the University of New England is no exception. With around 30 per cent of staff originating outside of Australia and a large population of international and interstate students, Brigid recognises that the university not only impacts the local community but leaves a footprint elsewhere around the world.

“That places complexity around us in terms of the intellectual and thought leadership we provide. We’re not just doing it around disciplines and subjects, we’re doing it into community conversations,” she notes. “The evolving challenge for our universities is how to support the agenda for modern Australia.”

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