Recently appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Vice-Chancellor's Committee (AVCC), Mr John Mullarvey has encouraged universities to use their collaborative power to influence Government decision makers, in an address to the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) at Charles Sturt University's Bathurst Campus on Tuesday 6 March.
"My attitude is the more groups there are lobbying Government to improve outcomes for higher education the better.
"Whether it is groups focussed on specific aspects of university operations such as CAUL or groups representing particular universities, like the Group of Eight, the Australian Technology Network, or the regional universities group - I see these all as enhancing the collective power of the sector to influence government to our mutual benefit." he said.
"In an increasingly competitive environment where funds are tight, universities have a lot to gain from getting together on a range of issues."
In an address that covered the basic role of the AVCC, its services to universities and the impact of last week's Digital Amendment Act, Mr Mullarvey also covered the Council's plans to get higher education back on the political agenda.
"For the last few months higher education has been a hot issue with governments and we saw some very positive results with the Government's recent Innovations statement, but we have also seen how quickly the political agenda can change and shunt us to one side.
"You can expect politicians will take more notice of hip-pocket issues like roads and petrol prices or the results of recent State elections, but it is up to university leaders to bring higher education issues forward," he said.
In response to questions from CAUL members as to the impact of recent media reports of a policy of soft marking in Australian universities, Mr Mullarvey said the AVCC had instigated a review of its guidelines in this area, and was mounting a public education campaign to make the public more aware of the firm policies that already exist in universities to deal with such issues.
Mr Mullarvey reserved his strongest remarks to CAUL members in explaining the wide-reaching implications of the recently announced Digital Amendment Act.
"This legislation is going to have a significant impact on teaching and learning processes and copyright practice in all universities.
"Universities will need to be much more aware of how to manage their electronic communications, particularly what is being posted on their websites and there will be a high risk to those who fail to manage their online practices in the future." The CAUL meeting held on 5 and 6 March brought 35 members from universities around Australia and New Zealand for the group's first biennial meeting to be held outside a metropolitan city since Wollongong in 1997.