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The top 50

The Australian    |    9 February 2012

What do Pablo Picasso and David Hazlehurst have in common?

Nothing at all really.

Pablo Picasso is a late painter of Spanish origin who is on The Australian’s list of the 50 most influential people in Australian higher education.

David Hazlehurst is very much alive and well and until late last year the bureaucrat with day to day responsibility for higher education in Australia and he’s not on the list.

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That sort of sums up The Australian‘s list of influential people today in higher education in Australia – mostly, the people you would expect are on it but  it’s nevertheless either quirky or silly in places, with some curious inclusions, some curious exclusions and some quite bizarre rankings.

The choices and rankings for the past year really should reflect the key milestones of the year.  Undoubtedly these were, first and foremost, the creation of the machinery for the new higher education system that came into on 1 January 2012 – notably, funding arrangements and the national regulatory framework.   And secondly the review of the student visa system aimed at fixing up the mess in the international sector

FacelessSo at the top of The Scan’s list, in no particular order (these things are the work of many minds and hands), are the likes of Denise Bradley, Glyn Davis, Greg Craven, David Hazlehurst  (backed by a bevy of faceless bureaucrats, such as Mark “Warbo” Warburton),  Ian Hawke, Carol Nicoll, John Dawkins, Glenn Withers, Michael Knight, David Phillips.   Ministers miss out because they are more your decisionmakers, Rob Oakeshott  might make it but surely not  at number 4 (whatever must Tony Windsor think about this)?   And the 18 year old at number 21 – you can sort of see the point – in their choices, 18 year olds have become influential – but …..

To say more risks being curmudgeonly – and The Oz should be congratulated for celebrating the movers and shakers in the sector.

A point of interest is  that at least 5 of this year’s hotlisters were fundamentally involved in that other higher education revolution of 20 plus years ago – John Dawkins, Ian Chubb, Mike Gallagher, Dave Phillips and, of course, Bruce Chapman.

Not as good as Picasso and Nobel, sure,   but pretty impressive in terms of ongoing influence.

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