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Australian Universities Accord:
unpacking the final report

EPHEA and UTS partnered to bring together a panel of experts who unpacked key insights from the final report of Australian Universities Accord. 

View the recordings and resources here

Host and opening remarks

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Sonal Singh
Executive Manager Student Access & Equity - UTS

Sonal has worked in higher education and the social services sector in Fiji and Australia with a focus on inclusive communities, widening participation, student success, and community engagement. Sonal has led national research projects on refugee-educational outcomes, culturally inclusive research methodologies and equity partnerships and has been the recipient of the NSW Humanitarian Award 2023.


Professor Barney Glover AO
Vice-Chancellor and President - Western Sydney University

Professor Barney Glover AO is the fourth Vice-Chancellor of Western Sydney University. A distinguished academic leader, an accomplished mathematician and mathematics educator and an experienced Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glover assumed his position at Western Sydney University in January 2014. He leads Western Sydney University as it continues to strive to ensure its students will succeed, its research will have impact and its communities will thrive – in Western Sydney and beyond.


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Dr Kylie Austin
Associate Director, Student Equity and Success - University of Wollongong

Dr Kylie Austin has over fifteen years experience in Australian higher education and is currently the Associate Director, Student Equity and Success. During this time, Kylie has led institution wide initiatives aimed to increase the representation and participation of  underrepresented cohorts at university.

In addition to this Kylie has led institution wide initiatives related to academic support, peer mentoring and co-curricular engagement. She is the current President of Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia, providing sector-wide advocacy and professional development to student and staff equity practitioners. Kylie’s research interests are in partnerships and equity, and has led national research projects to investigate the experiences of underrepresented cohorts with higher education.

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The Hon. Professor Verity Firth AM

Vice-President Societal Impact, Equity and Engagement - UNSW

Professor the Hon. Verity Firth AM is the inaugural Vice-President Societal Impact, Equity and Engagement at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Prof. Firth has over twenty years’ experience at the very highest levels of government and education sectors in Australia. She has strong public policy experience and a proven capacity to drive large-scale reform across a range of organisations.

Prior to her role at UNSW, Prof. Firth was the Pro Vice-Chancellor Social Justice and Inclusion at the University of Technology Sydney (2015-2022). She developed and delivered the UTS Social Impact Framework, a first of its kind for the Australian university sector and founded the UTS Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion. She was instrumental in the establishment of the UTS Human Technology Institute.

Prof. Firth is a Board Director for Teachers Mutual Bank and The Front Project and is Deputy Chair of the James Martin Institute and Engagement Australia. In 2023 she served on the Universities Accord Ministerial Reference Group (2023) and is currently a panellist for the NSW Vocational Education and Training Review.

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Professor Leanne Holt

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous - UNSW

Professor Leanne Holt is a Worimi/Biripi woman and author of Talking Strong, which tracks the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education policy in Australia. She is Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) at the UNSW, and the Immediate Past President of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium. 


Professor Sally Kift PFHEA FAAL ALTF

Principal Fellow - Higher Education Academy

Professor Sally Kift is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law (FAAL), and President of the Australian Learning & Teaching Fellows (ALTF). She has held several university leadership positions, including as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at James Cook University.


Sally is a national Teaching Award winner, a national Program Award winner and a national Senior Teaching Fellow on the First Year Experience. In 2010, she was appointed an Australian Discipline Scholar in Law. In 2017, Sally received an Australian University Career Achievement Award for her contribution to Australian higher education. Sally was a member of the Australian Qualifications Framework Review Panel that reported to Government in September 2019. Since 2017, she has been working as an independent higher education consultant.


Darlene McLennan

Manager - Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training

Darlene McLennan is the Manager of the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET). ADCET provides national leadership, information and professional development for educators and support staff in the inclusion of people with disability in Australia's Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector. Darlene has nearly 40 years of experience working in the disability sector, of which 19 years are within the tertiary disability sector.  


Through her time within the tertiary sector Darlene has lead development of several significant national resources that support the success of students with disability in tertiary education, including an E-Learning resource, ‘Supporting students with disability in VET’, NDIS preplanning toolkit, and ‘How to Transition to Tertiary study for students on the autism spectrum’ and the most recent project was the development of a guide for Higher Education provides in accessible ICT procurement. Darlene completed her Master of Business with the University of Tasmania and has a post-graduate degree in Careers Education through RMIT.


Darlene was diagnosed with Specific Learning Disability as an adult which provides her with some personal insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by students with disability when accessing and succeeding in tertiary education.

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Chris Ronan

CEO - Country Universities Centre

Chris is the CEO of the Country Universities Centre – a network of 18 community-run Regional University Study Hubs across Qld, NSW and Victoria. He has worked in the higher education and not-for-profit sectors across the United States, New Zealand, and Australia with a focus on Regional, Rural and Remote higher education policy, student equity, widening participation and rural student transitions.

He holds a master’s degree from the LH Martin Institute for Tertiary Education Leadership and Management at the University of Melbourne with a focus on Regional, Rural and Remote higher education policy and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD). Chris is also the National President of the Society for the Provision in Education in Rural Australia (SPERA).

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Professor Shamit Saggar CBE FAcSS
Executive Director - Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success, Curtin University

Professor Shamit Saggar CBE FAcSS is the Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success Education (ACSES) at Curtin University. He was formerly (2019-23) the inaugural Director of the Public Policy Institute and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Western Australia.

He is a former Senior Advisor to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, has worked in senior roles in government, business, regulation and philanthropy, and has taken an active part in public leadership board roles.

He was previously a Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Essex; Director of the ESRC South-East Social Science Network Doctoral Training Partnership; Director of the Policy Unit at the Institute for Social and Economic Research; Senior Policy Advisor in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office; ESRC Knowledge Exchange Fellow with HM Government; Professor of Political Science, University of Sussex; Reader in Political Behaviour at Queen Mary, University of London; Harkness Fellow at UCLA; Yale World Fellow at Yale University; and Visiting Professor of Public Policy at the University of Toronto.

He is a Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences, and in 2017 he was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to social science and public policy.

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Dr Nadine Zacharias
Managing Director and Founder - Equity by Design

Dr Nadine Zacharias is the Managing Director and Founder of Equity by Design, a specialist consulting firm in student equity strategy, program evaluation, and inclusive service design. Nadine leads transformative work in higher education to achieve a more equitable and high-performing sector which can support an increasingly diverse student cohort and leverage the potential of individuals for the common good.


She has held senior management roles at Swinburne and Deakin Universities, led ground-breaking research projects and, with Dr Matt Brett and Prof Sally Kift, developed a proposed policy statement for Australian tertiary education in The Best Chance for All.

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