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River Torrens footbridge at night
The footbridge over the River Torrens
Home » Leading by example – In conversation with Professor Peter Rathjen

Leading by example – In conversation with Professor Peter Rathjen

The City of Adelaide and South Australia are going through exciting times, promising transformational change to its citizens with growth on the agenda for individuals and government bodies alike. We sat down with Professor Peter Rathjen, newly appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, to listen to his perspective and outlook for the future.

One of the most common things people remark upon when they return to Adelaide after a lengthy absence is how much it has changed – in a good way.

Professor Peter Rathjen
Professor Peter Rathjen, Vice-Chancellor, University of Adelaide

The new Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, Professor Peter Rathjen, has moved back to Adelaide after living interstate for 12 years. He is impressed by what he sees, but also believes that now is the time to be courageous and grab the future with both hands.

“This is a much better city than the city I left, and that’s been a great surprise,” Peter said.

“I think there are two things that have made a difference. The first is the building work that’s been done around the Torrens which is absolutely world class and very, very beautiful.

“The second is that the city is far more alive and I suspect a big part of that is all the international students that the universities are bringing in. There are many young people in Adelaide and a lot more of what goes with young people such as bars, restaurants and things like that.”

Peter believes that the city’s universities are key to shaping a strong and positive future for the city.

“Society needs its universities to help invent the next thirty to fifty years of its future; we don’t know what work is going to look like in the future, or what jobs are going to look like,” he said.

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“Universities provide a source of innovation, new ways of using knowledge, and create highly educated people. The key is for the university to be closer to the community so it can match community aspiration. We must have a free-flow of ideas, information, people and culture with the city itself.”

 The University of Adelaide
Campus life, University of Adelaide

With growing defence opportunities, he says the state has a rare opportunity to embrace transformation and growth, as well as to attract research-led corporates.

“We must turn this opportunity into investment in technology such as artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning,” he said.

The City of Adelaide is in the process of rolling out its Ten Gigabit Adelaide network that it is hoping will attract some of those international organisations.

“Ten Gigabit Adelaide is an enabler and an asset that can draw people to Adelaide, while also encouraging graduates to stay here and still be connected to the rest of the world,” Peter said.

“South Australia has always been a courageous state. We’ve been the first to do so many things and we’ve got to go back to that sort of confidence.”


Discover and learn more about inspiring individuals like Professor Peter Rathjen, who are leading and driving change in the city, through other stories in our In Conversation With series.

Paula Stevens

Paula Stevens

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