Remarks at the Future of Asia Alumni Summit, Hong Kong

I am delighted to welcome you all to the Future of Asia Alumni Summit. It is fitting that we hold it here in Hong Kong where UNSW has such a strong alumni representation – the second largest outside of Sydney.

It is gratifying to see so many of you here today, showing your continued support of your alma mater. This Future of Asia summit could well have been called the Future is Asia summit.

We stand here today at the epicentre of global growth which shows no signs of slowing. The world has watched in awe as the nations of the Asia-Pacific have opened their doors to the world, transformed their economies and lifted tens of millions of people out of poverty.

With a burgeoning middle class comes a greater focus on moving a country forward economically and independently. Education, research and innovation are central to that goal and collaboration and partnership are central to it being achieved. And that means enormous opportunity for institutions like UNSW.

Our 2025 Strategy is a blueprint to transform our institution into Australia’s Global University – and a recent update on the Strategy shows our plans now sit on a solid foundation. We have responded to the reality of the 21st century – the demands of its rapid, constant changes – by embedding agility in our thinking and structures. We are disrupting community perceptions of universities.

In 2018 at UNSW, there is no place for an ivory tower mentality. We view ourselves as servants of the community – local, national and global – as the entire university sector must if it is to stay relevant.

The interconnectedness of our world means we must reimagine the way we interact with other institutions, with colleagues and with students.

Our borderless approach to the student experience sees more than one in three UNSW students come from one of 120 countries – international students account for 40% of our total student community. That means our invaluable people-to-people ties – nurtured by our almost 300,000-strong alumni – stretch across the world.

We have established a Global Partnerships team, headed by Pro Vice-Chancellor, Laurie Pearcey, which coordinates our approach to international partnerships and resources.

This dedicated push to foster strategic connections – across Asia, Europe and the US – has been rewarded with a network of relationships unrivalled among Australian universities.

Our Institute for Global Development is pursuing 250 projects in developing nations – across public health care, environment, AIDS/HIV, post-conflict trauma, migration and other fields, with the goal of improving the lives of one million people by 2025.

And we continue to collaborate on some of the greatest challenges facing the modern world – the threat of climate change; the growing refugee crises; strained healthcare systems; the future of cyber security; and inequality.

Technology has made our world smaller but our aspirations for positive global change bigger. They will only be achieved, however, through collaboration and partnership. Given that Australia has the ‘advantage of adjacency’ to the global powerhouse that is Asia – and given UNSW’s strong network across the region – there is much to be gained from our continued pursuit of partnerships here.

At its core, UNSW’s mission is to improve the world in which we live – and I hope this summit brings a fresh perspective and new ideas of how we achieve that.

It is now my pleasure to introduce to you, Dr Ronald Lu, Chairman of the Hong Kong Foundation Board and champion of our university.

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