Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association





First Page


Last Page



Australia and New Zealand Student Services Association


Office of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Equity and Indigenous)


Hill, B. (2023). Unseen inequities: The role of leadership in addressing structural barriers to education in Australian universities. JANZSSA-Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association, 31(1), 3-9.


The lack of diversity in leadership positions within the Australian university sector has been a persistent issue, with predominantly older, white, male leaders holding power and shaping the future of higher education. While student demographics have become more diverse, the leadership of academic institutions has not kept pace with these changes. Therefore, as student expectations and attitudes change, university communities are encouraged to (re)consider their commitment to proactively addressing the structural inequalities that continue to impact the journeys of the students we seek to serve. Nevertheless, activist universities—those that proactively and visibly seek to lead on matters of socio-political importance—are few and far between. The referendum to change the constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the establishment of a Voice to Parliament is an example where change has the potential to tangibly address educational inequality. The positions that institutions choose to take (or not), in relation to the attitudes held by a considerable proportion of our student cohorts, presents a strong argument for courageous leadership at all levels of our universities to lead, educate, and advocate for social good.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.