This week I had the privilege of giving the Graduation Address to 300 graduates from the Monash University Education Faculty. The topic I spoke on was the need to develop a stronger spirit of entrepreneurship in Australia in general, and in the Australian education sector in particular.
The most misused quote in Australia is from Donald Horne and the reference from his 1963 book to Australia as 'The Lucky Country'. Most who use it seem unaware of the irony that was intended and that it was really meant to be a wake-up call for what Horne saw as an unimaginative nation.
As Horne saw it, Australia had largely succeeded economically because of the agriculture and mineral wealth opportunities and in spite of the lacklustre quality of the political, business and social leadership.
Australia has of course come a long way as a nation in the ensuing 52 years; however, there is still a sense that the conservative, narrow, safety-first approach is dominant and that we could do more to foster an entrepreneurial outlook.
My challenge to the graduates was to consider incorporating an international component to their careers. The international education sector is booming, with more than 6,500 English-language international schools globally and a growth rate of around 7%. Australia's share of this market is embarrassingly low, with Haileybury being one of the few schools in the country to be actively involved.
The purpose of our international engagement is to deliver quality education overseas, provide interesting cultural opportunities for international engagement for Australian students and students in our international programs, provide good career options for high-quality staff, and support the Haileybury Foundation through the revenue generated.
There is the added benefit of gaining insights into different ways of doings things. There have been many ideas we have brought back to improve our practice in Australia.
I encouraged the Monash graduates to think about an international placement, which would give them valuable experience in a different environment and would enable them to bring new perspectives back to education in Australia.
Similarly, I outlined for the Senior School students at assembly this week why we focus on an international outlook as the third pillar of a Haileybury education: the first two being academic excellence and a commitment to social justice.
In particular, I noted that engagement in the services industries of health, education, finance, communications and logistics with the rapidly growing middle class in Asia is going to play an important role in Australia's future prosperity. Ninety per cent of Haileybury students will go to university and the vast majority will study in services-related areas. Those students who have a genuine international outlook will be in a good position to develop interesting career options. Those who also have an entrepreneurial spirit will be even better placed.
We will continue to promote these attitudes as a key part of a Haileybury education.