Launch of the Innovative Research Universities, National Innovation Case Study Collection
Flinders University, Adelaide

Simon Birmingham: Thanks very much Conor, Claire, and most importantly Jessica, and indeed interstate visitors, ladies and gentlemen. I’m thrilled to be back here at this impressive Tonsley campus of the Flinders University to see once again some of the amazing research facilities, collaboration that is occurring in this building, which seems to be so much at the cutting edge, although one of the researchers could do with taking a look at the doors. But it is really a wonderful example of some of the best of our universities, of course some of the best within the IRU.

We learn in so many different ways, and so much drives our learning as people, but particularly indeed students and as researchers and as teachers, and that learning is built on a whole range of fundamentals. We, of course, learn from knowledge, acquire knowledge, take it up in a range of different ways, and we learn from example – the example of others. We learn on the basis of inspiration and being inspired to try and do different things. We learn from failure as well. And the beauty of something like the case studies that we’re launching today is that, based on the examples of others, the knowledge of others, the success and the failures of others, the inspiration occurs for others to learn to follow; as Jessie has said, that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel again and again, but of course we can build upon one another, to stand, as the classic saying goes, on the shoulders of giants and continually add to that knowledge and that capacity.

So I really pay credit and tribute to the IRU for supporting this project that provides examples of innovation, knowledge, examples that others can build upon to help strengthen our education system, our research system; to help support the students of today and in the future; to help support new breakthroughs into the future. Because, of course, the wonderful thing about the vast range of case studies that have been supported is they do cross and cover so many different aspects and attributes.

It’s a credit to the innovative commitment universities like Flinders and each of the IRU members – and I acknowledge again those who’ve come from interstate – who contributed to this process, and in doing so, of course, have really valued-added to make sure that it brings the breadth and depth of our universities across the nation – from the northern end to the western side – and that we really do pick up, of course, a range of different experiences and expertise. And innovation isn’t just about the latest new scientific equipment or new wonder drug that might be sexy for the Sunday newspapers. It is, of course, a continuous grind in many ways, that people day in and day out, across hundreds of facilities like this one around the country, are toiling away at, often making small, incremental breakthroughs, but it is from each of those incremental breakthroughs that of course we get the sum of our total success.

One of the more important innovations that I’m really thrilled has been touched on here is to continue to build on our understanding of teaching and learning; to continue to explore and deliver new methods in which those who seek to transfer knowledge in our universities, in our educational institutions around the country can do so in better, better ways, because that must be certainly our ambition – it certainly is mine as Education Minister. Yesterday I was thrilled to speak at the International Conference on the Science of Learning, bringing together neurosurgeons, neuroscientists, new teachers, and a range of other disciplines actually working on the science of learning and how it is that we most successfully, most effectively can pass that knowledge.

This provides 115 examples of good practice – of great practice, in many ways – from support that embeds career development into courses at JCU; to the enhancing the experience for international students; through the Griffith Mates at Griffith Uni program; projects like Charles Darwin’s partnership with Deloitte, giving their students the opportunity to access the graduate application program, including a range of workshops and industry places; La Trobe’s initiative to facilitate equitable access to work integrated learning opportunities through online learning. So much, of course, of the success in innovation is based upon collaboration and partnerships, and again these type of examples helps give people inspiration, knowledge, and understanding in how to build stronger, better collaborative partnerships into the future.

Every day, academics, teachers, university staff are asking themselves how do we enhance learning experiences of their students, how to ensure their university continues to be better regarded in their local community, for its contribution to the financial economy, and the world standings that universities aspire to be in.

This case study collection promotes best practice. It will encourage people to try new things, to share what works, and to reach out when things don’t work out. It’s a wonderful resource for practitioners. Congratulations. I’m thrilled that the day has come where we can launch this. It’s been a bit of a moving feast of my diary, I think, so delighted to do so. It’s a credit to you, Jessica, to have been able to bring this together so quickly in such a short period of time since your appointment as fellow, and of course that only denotes that there will be many other great contributions no doubt you’ll be making with that role. Congratulations and well done.