Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Elliot retires


Retiring USC Pro Vice-Chancellor (International and Quality) Professor Robert Elliot

USC’s Foundation Dean of Arts, Professor Robert Elliot, will retire today as the University’s longest-serving staff member – a senior executive who helped guide and develop its extraordinary expansion, international profile and academic credibility for 25 years.

As Pro Vice-Chancellor International since 2005, Professor Elliot helped turn a new university of about 500 students in 1996 into a quality-assured, globally recognised institution with more than 18,000 students today.

Taking USC to the world and bringing the world to USC, he was committed to the steady, measured growth of international student numbers to reach last year’s 15 percent of total enrolments.

From 2005, he initiated and managed USC’s internationalisation agenda at all levels, from institutional partnerships and teaching and research collaborations to recruiting international students and developing overseas study credit for local students.

In 2014, he noted that USC had earned a level of credibility that belied its relative youth in Australia’s tertiary sector, when international student numbers jumped 42 percent to hit the 1,000 mark for the first time. It was 10 percent of the student population, benefiting both the budget and the culture of the University, he said.

“We’re now big enough and have been around long enough to remove any doubts about our value or longevity,” he reported in 2014. “It’s easy to market USC for its consistent teaching quality and as a holiday destination for shorter study, but now we’re achieving the legitimacy as a higher education institution that attracts international students wanting to do full degree programs here.”

He saw USC’s traditional student markets of Northern Europe, Scandinavia and North America expand to include Asia and Southeast Asia.

Having completed four Arts and Education degrees from four universities within 10 years, including his PhD from University of Queensland in 1983, Professor Elliot’s administrative work was also informed by his broad experience and his research specialties in applied ethics.

His book, Faking Nature: The ethics of environmental restoration, was published by Routledge in 1997 and he has an extensive publications record.

Professor Elliot’s final five months at USC were as Acting Vice-Chancellor at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Queensland. He plans to maintain an ongoing interest in USC’s future success.

USC Chancellor Sir Angus Houston praised Professor Elliot for his dedication and leadership over many years.  

“It is testament to his drive and determination that Professor Elliot spent his final months at USC leading the University through its most historically significant upheaval,” he said.

“The solid international partnerships that he established will hold USC in good stead as it works to rebuild international student enrolments and maintain USC’s internationalisation agenda post COVID-19 restrictions.”

USC’s new Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Helen Bartlett also expressed gratitude for Professor Elliot’s work in guiding the University this year.  

“I would like to thank Professor Elliot for his leadership as Acting Vice-Chancellor and President in the months before my arrival,” she said. “I have appreciated his support over this period and wish him all the very best for his retirement.”

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