An Interview With Outgoing VC

For the last 12 years Ross Milbourne has watched over UTS as Vice-Chancellor, but now it’s time to say goodbye. LARISSA BRICIS spoke to Ross for some parting advice and reflection on his time at UTS.

You rebutted Christopher Pyne’s suggestion that students should thank taxpayers for paying for their education. What responses have you received from students, and the wider community, after the publication of these comments?

I have been heartened by the support I have received from students, including a Facebook page, and also from the wider community including staff at universities who have advocated fee deregulation!


You made your opinions very clear in responding to Mr. Pyne. What would you like to say, directly to students, on this matter?

I think it is hypocritical that a generation of people who got free university education are now saying to the current generation that you have to pay heavily to climb into the lifeboat with us. I hope that the younger generation don’t take it out on us when they wield political power (or at least not all of us!).


Senator Carr has described the Budget’s changes to university fees as “radical and retrograde.” In your mind, how extremely will this Budget affect students seeking tertiary education?

We are working through the details but if the current legislation passes the Senate, fees will have to rise by a minimum of 30% at every university. UTS got particularly badly affected because of the very large cuts to science and engineering funding.


Slightly less politically minded, what has been your fondest memory of the university in your 12-year tenure?

I think all of my best memories have been student related. I am continually inspired by the achievements of our students, and their commitment to making a difference in the world.


What will you miss about UTS?

The people. The first day I arrived at UTS I felt welcomed. I have a great team around me. I will particularly miss them.


There are no Australian universities ranked in the top 10 – or top 20 – globally. Do you think that UTS, or any Australian university, will make its way into the top 10?

Rankings are primarily based on research, and they are overwhelmingly influenced by resources. For example, thanks to its large endowment, Harvard has six times the income per student of any Australian university; Stanford has four times; even public universities such as University of California Berkley gets funded at three times the rate of our universities. That’s the funding you need to get into that league. Because of that, Australia will not have a world top 20 university in our lifetime. It is ridiculous to think otherwise.


Any parting wisdom for incoming VC, Attila Brungs?

Always back your judgement.


Photo credit: image courtesy of GFP Studios