Go8 Board

The Go8 Board, which consists of the vice-chancellors (presidents) of its eight member universities, meets five times a year.

The Chair of the Board rotates among member universities.

The current Chair of the Board is Professor Peter Høj, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Queensland.

Link to Professor Peter Høj's biography.


The University of Queensland
Professor Peter Høj


Professor Peter Høj commenced as Vice Chancellor and President of The University of Queensland on 8 October 2012.  Prior to this appointment Professor Høj was Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of South Australia from 1 June 2007.   Before that, he was Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council (2004-2007) and Managing Director of the Australian Wine Research Institute (1997-2004).

He was educated at the University of Copenhagen, majoring in biochemistry and chemistry, and has a Master of Science degree in biochemistry and genetics, a PhD in photosynthesis, an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Copenhagen and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia.

Professor Høj is the chair of the Board of Group of Eight (Go8) Universities in 2017, a member of the Medical Research Future Fund Advisory Board, a member of the STEM Males Champions of Change, a member of SUSTech President’s International Advisory Council from 2017 and in 2014 was appointed as a senior consultant to Hanban in the Oceania Region.

He served as Co-Deputy Chair of the Strengthened Export Controls Steering Group 2012-2016, a member of the edX University Advisory Board 2014-2017, the CSIRO Board 2011-2014 and was Deputy Chair of Universities Australia Board 2011-2013. He served as a private member of the Prime Minister’s Science Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) from 1999-2004, and as an ex-officio member from 2006-2007.

He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and a Foreign Member (Natural Sciences Class) of The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.

UNSW Sydney
Professor Ian Jacobs

Professor Ian Jacobs is a doctor, researcher, charity worker, business entrepreneur and academic leader with an interest in bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to have a positive impact on society.

He has been President and Vice-Chancellor of UNSW Sydney since February 2015. UNSW located in Sydney is a member of the Australian Group of 8 universities, in the world top 100 universities, with over 50,000 students. Since taking up his post Professor Jacobs has led the development of an ambitious 'UNSW 2025 Strategy' combining academic excellence in research and education, with equal priorities in social engagement, equality, diversity, thought leadership, knowledge transfer and global impact.

Prior to his role at UNSW he was Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences at UCL from 2009-11, Director of the Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre at UCLH/UCL (2006-10), Research Director UCL Partners Academic Health Science System (2009-11) and Director of the UCL Institute for Women’s Health from 2004-9. He moved to be Vice President of the University of Manchester, Dean of the Faculty of Medical/Human Sciences and Director of MAHSC (Manchester Academic Health Science Centre) from 2011-15 before commencing his post at UNSW in Sydney.
Alongside his leadership roles, he directs a laboratory and clinical research team focused on genetics, proteomics, imaging and biomarkers in detection and screening for gynaecological cancers and has held research awards in the UK of >£30m from Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK and the National Institute of Health Research. As a researcher he has led several large multicentre clinical trials including the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS) involving 202,000 participants in 13 collaborating UK centres and the UK Familial Ovarian Cancer Screening Study (UKFOCSS). He is co-inventor of the patented Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm (ROCA) for ovarian cancer screening. He has an H-Index of 70,  over 200 journal publications and over 400 publications in total, which have been cited 19,878 times overall and 9416 times in the last 5 years.

He qualified at Cambridge University and the Middlesex Hospital, obtained accreditation in obstetrics and gynaecology working at the Royal London and Rosie Maternity Cambridge and specialist accreditation as a surgical gynaecological oncologist at Bart’s and The Royal Marsden. He completed an MD Thesis at Queen Mary College, University of London, the Cancer Research UK McElwain Fellowship at Cambridge University and a Medical Research Council Travelling Fellowship at Duke University, North Carolina. Ian was head of Department of Gynaecological Oncology and then Obstetrics and Gynaecology at QMUL from 1996 to 2004 and set up and directed the UCL Institute for Women’s Health between 2004 and 2009.

Since joining UNSW in February 2015 Professor Jacobs has been made an Honorary Senior Principal Research Fellow of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, a Director of Research Australia, the Chair of the Australian Conservation Foundation¹s Leadership Forum for Energy Transition, a member of the Australian Research Council Impact and Engagement Steering Committee, Chair of the Sydney Partnership for Health Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE), member of the Business/Higher Education Round Table Board (BHERT), he is currently Lead Universities Australia Vice-Chancellor on Equity and Diversity and Deputy Chair of the Group of 8 universities.  
The University of Sydney
Dr Michael Spence AC

Dr Michael Spence graduated from The University of Sydney with First Class Honours in English, Italian and Law in 1985. 

At Oxford University, Dr Spence obtained his PhD and continued to develop his career there over the next 20 years. He became a  Fellow of St Catherine and also obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Theology  from the University of Oxford.

Among his many achievements at Oxford,  Dr Spence oversaw significant growth of research activity and funding in the Social Sciences, and the strengthening of links between the social science departments, and between them and the University more broadly.

He became Vice-Chancellor of The University of Sydney in July 2008. 

The Australian National University
Brian Schmidt
Professor Brian P. Schmidt was appointed Vice-Chancellor and President of The Australian National University (ANU) in January 2016.

Professor Schmidt is the 12th Vice-Chancellor of The Australian National University (ANU). Winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, Professor Schmidt was an astrophysicist at the ANU Mount Stromlo Observatory and Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics before becoming Vice-Chancellor.

Professor Schmidt received undergraduate degrees in Astronomy and Physics from the University of Arizona in 1989, and completed his Astronomy Master's degree (1992) and PhD (1993) from Harvard University. Under his leadership, in 1998, the High-Z Supernova Search team made the startling discovery that the expansion rate of the Universe is accelerating. Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, The United States Academy of Science, and the Royal Society, he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2013.


Monash University
President and Vice-Chancellor
Professor Margaret Gardner became President and Vice-Chancellor of Monash University on September 1, 2014. Prior to joining Monash, Professor Gardner was Vice-Chancellor and President of RMIT from April 2005 until August 2014.

She has extensive academic experience, having held various leadership positions in Australian universities throughout her career, including at the University of Queensland and Griffith University.

Armed with a first class honours degree in Economics and a PhD from the University of Sydney, in 1988 she was a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow spending time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University, and the University of California, Berkeley.

Professor Gardner is Chair of Universities Australia and a Director of the Group of Eight Universities. She is also a Director of Infrastructure Victoria and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), and was recently made a member of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Inclusion and Diversity Committee.

Professor Gardner has previously been chair of Museum Victoria and chaired the Strategic Advisory Committee and the Expert Panel of the Office of Learning and Teaching (Federal Government Department of Education and Training). She has also been a member of various other boards and committees, including the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, the ANZAC Centenary Advisory Board and the International Education Advisory Committee, which led to the Chaney Report.

In 2007, Professor Gardner was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to tertiary education, particularly in the areas of university governance and gender equity, and to industrial relations in Queensland.  
The University of Melbourne
Professor Glyn Davis AC
Glyn Davis has been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne since January 2005.  The University enrols 63,000 students, half in graduate programs, employs nearly 9,000 staff, leads Australian research rankings, and operates on an annual budget of more than $2.2 billion.  Through Melbourne University Publishing, it supports Australia’s largest academic press.

At the University of Melbourne, Professor Davis has promoted the ‘triple helix’ – an aspiration to offer outstanding research, education, and engagement, with each strand reinforcing the others.  This strategy has encouraged major investments in new research infrastructure and an emphasis on engagement activities such as archives, museums and advancement.  In 2016 the University completed, two years early, the $500 million I Believe campaign, the largest fund raising drive in its history.  Significant progress has been made on a revised Campaign target of $1 billion.  Recent gifts included the last program funded by Atlantic Philanthropies in New York, worth $A 65 million, with a focus on Indigenous leadership.

The University of Melbourne is the first Australian institution to align with international degree structures.  Adopting the ‘Melbourne Model’ from 2008 provided a rare opportunity to rethink curriculum, student services and teaching spaces across campus.  All professional programs are now taught at graduate level, with undergraduates encouraged to pursue depth and breadth in one of six degrees offered by the University.

These strategic choices have been accompanied by major administrative reform, with Melbourne developing a divisional cost centre budget and shared services to support academic, student and infrastructure programs.  The $80 m saved annually through shared services has been reinvested in core academic activity.

The University has also made substantial investments in on-line learning, developed through a partnership with global provider Coursera.  The University of Melbourne is a national leader in the provision of Massive Online Open Courses, with nearly 1 million students from around the globe enrolled in Melbourne offerings.  In 2016 the University launched a suite of professionally-orientated masters courses, offered for credit.  These use the best available web technologies to provide an interactive experience with leading academics in the field of study.

During the past decade the University of Melbourne has been numbered among the fast-rising universities in global rankings.  The US News & World Report assesses Melbourne as first in Australia, second in Asia to Tokyo, and 32nd in the world.  The Times Higher Education Supplement ranks the University at 33 and the Academic Ranking of World Universities at 40.

Professor Davis is a public policy scholar, who writes on policy making and central agency coordination.  He holds first class honours in political science from the University of New South Wales, with a thesis supervised by Donald Horne on the origins of the radio station 2JJ.  His doctorate from the Australian National University examined the political independence of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.  He undertook postgraduate appointments as a Harkness Fellow at the University of California Berkeley, the Brookings Institution in Washington and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

In parallel to an academic career from 1985 at Griffith University, Professor Davis has worked in federal and state governments.  This included service as Queensland’s most senior public servant, with responsibility for developing and leading the ‘smart state’ strategy to make Queensland a centre for biotechnology and research translation. While serving as Director-General Professor Davis was also a member of national bodies such as the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority.  He returned from public service to Griffith as Vice-Chancellor in early 2002.

This involvement with the public sector continued through a role as the Foundation Chair of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.  In 2008 Professor Davis co-chaired the 2020 Summit with the Prime Minister, a gathering of 1,000 Australian policy thinkers at Parliament House, Canberra.

Within Australian higher education, Professor Davis has served as Chair of the Group of Eight and Chair of Universities Australia, the peak body for the sector.

Internationally he has chaired Universitas 21 and served on the Hong Kong University Grants Committee.  He was a member of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Global Engagement for the American Council on Education, and continues as a Director of the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at King’s College London.

In the arts, Professor Davis has served on the boards of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland Theatre Company and, for more than a decade, the Melbourne Theatre Company.  He commissioned the Griffith Review while in Queensland and, in Melbourne, worked with Editor Andrew Jaspan on foundation of The Conversation.  With Gwil Croucher, Professor Davis edited the first 2016 edition of literary journal Meanjin, with a wide ranging survey of Australian democracy.

For the ABC, Professor Davis presented the 2010 Boyer lectures, The Republic of Learning: higher education transforms Australia.  He hosts a regular podcast discussing public policy issues with national experts, The Policy Shop.

For the City of Melbourne, Professor Davis served as Chair of the Future Melbourne Ambassadors, a group of five citizens appointed by the Lord Mayor to lead community discussion around a new 10 year plan for the City.  The plan was adopted unanimously by the Council in August 2016.

Professor Davis is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia, a Companion in the Order of Australia, a Member of the Victorian Male Champions for Change, Chair of the Future Melbourne 2026 Ambassadors group, a founding Director of the Grattan Institute and a Director of Asialink and the Melbourne Business School.    
The University of Western Australia
Professor Dawn Freshwater

Dawn became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Australia in January 2017. She had served previously for three years as The University of Western Australia (UWA)’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (SDVC) and Registrar, and as Acting Vice-Chancellor in late 2016.  In the role of SDVC, she led UWA through its most significant transformation in over two decades, with the aim of optimising UWA’s world class research, and further cultivating its exceptional educational outcomes and student experience.  She is committed not only to academic excellence, but also to the blend of social enterprise and industry engagement required of a contemporary research intensive university.

A health professional by training and an academic of international repute in her own field, that of mental health, Dawn was Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the School of Healthcare at the University of Leeds.  During this period she worked as a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group, building a strategy that positioned Leeds to deliver innovative and leading edge solutions to global societal challenges.Academically, Professor Freshwater’s work has focussed on forensic mental health, with a particular interest in marginalised groups impacted by severe, long term mental health issues.

A strong advocate for inclusion and diversity, and a values-led leader, Dawn has supported a number of initiatives in this area.  In the UK she achieved a University wide Athena SWAN award at the University of Leeds, and worked towards implementing the Equality Charter Mark, ensuring all staff and students with protected characteristics were represented at all levels.  As SVDC at UWA she delivered an Inclusion and Diversity Strategy, and continues to champion a culture of equal opportunity in her current role. As VC she sits on the NHMRC women in science committee, and continues to contribute to the knowledge base of research in leadership.

Professor Freshwater continues to give back to society, never forgetting her roots, and happily volunteers her expertise and time to support the development of better services for young people, experiencing psychological distress, at home, in care and in custodial settings

The University of Adelaide
Professor Peter Rathjen

Professor Peter Rathjen commenced as the University of Adelaide’s 22nd Vice-Chancellor and President on 8 January 2018. He is an Australian scientist and medical researcher internationally recognised in stem cell science. Prior to his appointment, Professor Rathjen was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania, where he was instrumental in creating vibrant new university precincts within the CBDs of Hobart, Launceston and Burnie.

Professor Rathjen is an alumnus of the University of Adelaide, as are all of the members of his immediate family. While at Adelaide as an undergraduate in the Department of Biochemistry, he was awarded the R A Fisher Prize for Genetics and the Morton Prize for Biochemistry, both in 1983.  As a 1985 Rhodes Scholar, he undertook a DPhil at New College, University of Oxford, studying mobile genetic elements in yeast and mammals. 

Professor Rathjen returned to South Australia and the University of Adelaide, where he worked as a Lecturer in Biochemistry from 1990 to 1995 and Professor of Biochemistry from 1995 to 2002. He became Head of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in 2000, and Foundation Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences in 2002, a role he held until 2006. In 2005 he was awarded the Research Leadership Award in the South Australian Science Excellence Awards.

Professor Rathjen was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne in 2006; in 2008, he became Dean of the Graduate School of Science, and from 2008 to 2011 he served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research). In 2011, he took up the role of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania, a role he held until October 2017.

Professor Rathjen is a non-executive director of the Board of Universities Australia. He is on the Board of the Australian Science Media Centre and is a patron of the Australian Institute of Policy and Science Tall Poppy Campaign.