New South Wales Higher Education Summit 2024

Academics networking
The UNSW Scientia Education Academy is delighted to once again host the New South Wales Higher Education Summit on Friday afternoon, 28 June.

The event will bring together thought leaders and practitioners from across the country, to explore key issues impacting and shaping the HE sector, with a focus on AI and Assessment. In addition to two keynotes and a panel discussion, the program features two dedicated networking sessions, to enable participants from across institutions to meet in person and get together in a relaxed setting. 


Time Agenda Item & Speakers

Welcome from UNSW Scientia Education Academy

Academy Director, Professor Patsie Polly

UNSW DVC Academic Quality, Professor Merlin Crossley


Keynote - Reflecting on our war with Generative AI: Where to go from here?

Associate Professor Michael Cowling (CQU)


Keynote Change and continuity: An Entangled Pedagogy perspective on GenAI (delivered remotely)

Associate Professor Tim Fawns (MON)

4.00pm Keynotes Q&A
4.10pm Networking, Drinks and Canapes 🥂🧀🧁

Panel Discussion: AI-Integrated HE Culture

Professor Kelly Matthews (UQ)

Professor Danny Liu (USYD)

Associate Professor Jan McLean (UTS)

Professor Alex Steel (UNSW)

Facilitated by UNSW DVC Education & Student Experience, Professor Sarah Maddison

5.50pm Formal Closing Remarks 
6.00pm Networking, Drinks and Canapes 🥂🧀🧁

About the speakers

Michael Cowling (Associate Professor - Information & Communication Technology, CQUniversity) has been a leader in educational technology for over 20 years and recipient of the Universities Australia AAUT Award for Teaching Excellence (Physical Sciences). He is the President (2023 to 2025) of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE), where he is also a Community Fellow, as well as Vice-President of the Open Access Publishing Association (OAPA) and webmaster for Queensland Academy of Arts & Sciences (QAAS). Through his mantra ‘pedagogy before technology’, he fosters thoughtfulness in technology for students, educators and the public. Learn more about Michael.

Tim Fawns is Associate Professor (Education Focused) at the Monash Education Academy. Tim’s research interests are at the intersection between digital, professional (particularly medical and healthcare professions) and higher education, with a particular focus on the relationship between technology and educational practice. Tim’s research covers a broad range of educational practices (including curriculum design, assessment, teaching practice, evaluation and more), with emphasis on appreciating complexity in relation to online, blended and hybrid education. He has recently contributed to TEQSA’s Assessment reform for the age of artificial intelligence guidance document and played a leading role in a range of sector-wide events to help institutions respond to the opportunities and challenges of artificial intelligence. Learn more about Tim.

Kelly Matthews is a well-respected applied researcher and higher education scholar, a multiple award-winning university teacher, and an educational leader known for co-creating successful networks that bring people together to advance higher education.

In 2024, Kelly is collaborating on a cross-institutional study to explore student perspectives on artificial intelligence (AI), which is co-funded by Deakin, Monash, UQ, and UTS. She is also co-organising the 10th annual Students as Partners (SaP) Roundtable with students and staff from Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, US, and UK. With Teaching-Focused colleagues at Monash, UNSW, UQ, and Sydney, she is co-creating an Australian Teaching/Education Focused Academic Network. Learn more about Kelly.

Danny Liu is a molecular biologist by training, programmer by night, researcher and academic developer by day, and educator at heart. He works at the confluence of educational technology, student engagement, artificial intelligence, learning analytics, pedagogical research, organisational leadership, and professional development. He is currently a Professor in the Educational Innovation team in the DVC (Education) Portfolio at the University of Sydney. Learn more about Danny.

Jan McLean is the Director of the Institute for Interactive Media and Learning at UTS. She is an Associate Professor and researcher in higher education and development with a particular interest in the effects of the changing higher education context upon academic life and practice as well as student belonging and learning.

Jan joined UTS in 2016 after more than 20 years working in the field of educational development at UNSW. She has extensive experience in working with staff, students and senior leaders across numerous facets of teaching and research development, academic careers, curriculum design, innovation and change. She has led initiatives around Students as Partners, research integrated teaching, peer inquiry and observation and the scholarship of learning and teaching. She has particular expertise and interest in the area of learning and particularly creating collaborative learning experiences that inspire academics to explore emerging and innovative ways to approach their own practice, and which build connections and communities. Learn more about Jan.

Alex Steel is Director AI Strategy Education, and a Professor in the Law Faculty. Alex is an internationally recognised legal academic with research interests in both criminal law and legal education. He has numerous teaching awards including a Commonwealth Government Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. He is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He has extensive experience in senior leadership at university level across teaching and student support with focus on digital innovation. He divides his time between the Law Faculty and the Division of Education and Student Experience. Learn more about Alex.

Sarah Maddison is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education & Student Experience) at UNSW. Sarah has worked in Higher Education for 25 years, with 10 years of senior leadership experience, including Department Chair, School Dean, Faculty Executive Dean, Pro-Vice Chancellor, and most recently Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education, Experience & Employability) at Swinburne University of Technology. A champion of innovation in learning and teaching and research-informed practice, Sarah has led her team to win a prestigious Australian government Office of Learning & Teaching Citation and an Open Universities Australia NOVA award for innovation in online learning to build student agency and digital communities. She has been invited to numerous national and international panels on topics including the use of learning analytics to support student retention, learning ecosystems to support borderless education, and pedagogy and learning spaces. Learn more about Sarah.

Patsie Polly is a Scientia Education Fellow who is an Education Focussed Champion and Professor in the Department of Pathology within the School of Medical Sciences (SoMS), Faculty of Medicine, UNSW. Patsie is recognised nationally as a medical scientist, leading teacher and innovative education researcher. She has infused her extensive medical research experience into the classroom by applying the latest laboratory research practice. Patsie strategically integrates adaptive lessons, ePortfolio pedagogy and collaborative communities of practice to allow her students to learn these career-relevant skills. Her unique method blends virtual and real laboratory experiences to break new ground in engaging her students as researchers. Patsie has led reflective ePortfolio implementation to develop deep learning of teamwork and communication competencies in students, contextualising acquiring these skills for their future as medical researchers and health professionals. Learn more about Patsie.

About the Keynotes

Presented by Associate Professor Michael Cowling (CQUniversity)

In the last 18 months since ChatGPT became popular (in November 2022), the tension between Education and Generative AI could almost be framed up as a kind of battle. Skirmishes have been numerous: from those that wish to conquer; to those holed up in their bunker; and even those hoping that the war might actually introduce a whole new world order.

This opening keynote will map out the last 18 months of this battle of Generative AI across Higher Education, talking about the various approaches taken and models developed. Various lessons learnt and case studies will be outlined as examples of where success has been had, as well as where changes have needed to be made. Finally, it will reflect on options for the future, and what our best approach might be to finally declare peace in this war with Generative AI (lest we need to surrender!).

Presented by Associate Professor Tim Fawns (Monash University)

Imagine Higher Education as a baby in a bath of processes, policies, technologies, methods, and practices. The bathwater has been getting dirtier over time, with over-assessment, increasing workloads, financial pressures, and tensions between mass education and student voice, inclusion, and trust relations. Now, a bath bomb called “GenAI” is both distracting from, and amplifying, these issues. Do we need a radical overturning of bath and contents? Can we sort our problems with a little scrubbing here and there?

Tim will reflect on the last 18 months and what we can learn from the responses of educators, students, and the community. Taking an entangled pedagogy perspective (in which technology is one of many interrelated elements that produce educational activity), Tim will position GenAI in relation to continuity and change, and the need to excavate and redefine the role of Higher Education in helping society to change itself for the better.


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This event is hosted by the UNSW Scientia Education Academy, a forum for UNSW’s outstanding educators to cultivate thought leadership, stimulate and challenge us to inspire educational excellence at UNSW and beyond.