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2017 University Finance Conference

ATEM is proud to announce its first ever finance conference. This inaugural 2 day University Finance Conference is being organised by sector wide University finance professional staff, by the sector for the sector.

11 - 12 May 2017 at the Palazzo Versace Hotel on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

The theme for the conference is 'Navigating the World of University Finance'.

Registrations and the Call for Papers are now open! NB. Discounts are available for groups of 3 or more.

We are pleased to confirm that the conference will be held at the Palazzo Versace on Queensland's Gold Coast, with a cocktail event, included in your registration, to be held at the Palazzo on 11 May.

The Conference Schedule has just been released - download the draft.

Special conference accommodation rates now available.

Register Now

  • Inspirational and progressive leaders in University Finance share their experiences, success and explore the challenges we face in challenging times
  • Fast track your understanding of the Higher Education sector and see how finance partners are driving and influencing strategic outcomes
  • Evolving transition to Finance leadership and development a world class finance functions
  • The language of business, how the focus of accountants has shifted from compliance to communication
  • Collaborate, communicate and investigate with cross sector peers to embrace and formulate best practice
  • Listen to outstanding and inspiring Keynote Speakers
  • Key workshops and case studies on research finance, business transformation and management reporting

This interactive and practical program will enable you to gain insights into global trends in higher education finance and benefit from tools and techniques which have been utilised by universities around the region.

This conference is designed to meet the needs of aspiring university finance executives. If you are in the HEW5 to HEW9 workspace, then this is the conference for you.

Attendees will better understand the evolving role of Finance in the Higher Education sector.

Call For Papers

Finance professionals in the University and post-secondary education sector are facing an increasingly challenging and complex business environment.

With greater pressure, demands and scrutiny being placed on the financial management of institutions along with an underlying need to become more commercial, it is vital for tertiary financial professionals to develop advanced skills in financial management, forecasting, budgeting, and costing to drive resource efficiency, improve strategic planning and to ensure that overall institution outcomes can be achieved.

The 2017 Finance Conference Organising Committee is calling for abstracts for concurrent sessions of 45 minutes each, comprising 30 minutes presentation plus 15 minutes for questions.

Download the Call for Papers and the Abstract Submission form here.

Keynote Speakers

  • Professor Ian O'Connor - Vice Chancellor and President, Griffith University

Professor Ian O’Connor was appointed Vice Chancellor and President of Griffith University in January 2005, taking the helm of one of Australia’s largest and most innovative tertiary institutions. Now home to more than 44,000 students from more than 130 countries, the University is one of the Asia-Pacific region’s most influential universities with research strengths in areas that address the key issues of our time.

Professor O’Connor is widely published in the field of juvenile justice, child welfare and the future directions of social work and the human services. Professor O'Connor has served as a consultant to, or as a member of, various Government and non-Government bodies.

  • Travis Walker - Chair, Australian University Senior Finance Officers Group (AUSFOG) and Executive Director, Financial & Human Resources, Southern Cross University

Travis has 18 years Higher Education experience in finance management. As Executive Director Finance and Human Resources, at Southern Cross University, he is a member of the Executive responsible for the financial recovery of Southern Cross University through cost reductions, considerable restructures and new revenue growth initiatives.

Prior to SCU, Travis held the role of Deputy Director Finance at RMIT, delivering profit reporting, detailed margin analysis that informed the framing of the budget, and integration of all finance staff across the organisation to central finance. This helped improve the University’s operating results from negative 2% to positive 5%.

Allan entered the higher education sector in Management Accounting at Deakin University, converting the internal management reporting from a cash to accrual basis, introducing course and unit profitability and simplifying the budget on the basis. The financial management of the University had allowed for +$500m in capital expansion without any external borrowings.

His education includes a Master of Business Administration from LaTrobe, Melbourne, following a Bachelor Business (Accounting) RMIT, Melbourne. He is a Certified Practising Accountant.

Travis is Chair of Australian University Senior Finance Officers Group, and the Chair in 2017.

  • Allan Tait - Vice-Principal Administration & Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Melbourne University

Allan Tait was appointed Vice-Principal Administration & Finance and Chief Financial Officer in May 2014, and has been the University’s Chief Financial Officer since September 2009. His portfolio includes human resources, digital & data, property and sustainability.

Allan was Vice-Principal (Commercialisation) from March 2006 in conjunction with which, he was CEO of UoM Commercial Ltd, the University's commercialisation company.

Prior to joining the University Allan was a partner in the corporate finance group at PricewaterhouseCoopers, finance director of the local investment banking subsidiary of the Toronto Dominion Bank, and CEO of Gadens Lawyers (Melbourne), a top ten national legal firm.

Allan is a chartered accountant and a member of the institutes in both Australia and the UK, and a member of the Finance and Management Faculty of the institute in the UK. He has a degree in economic history from the University of Birmingham (England).

His company director experience includes the boards of various organisations in the private and public sectors.

  • Professor Peter Noonan - Professor of Tertiary Education Policy, Mitchell institute, Victoria University

Peter Noonan has played a major role in shaping policy in Australia’s education and training system and has experience working as a policy adviser, senior executive and consultant to federal and state governments, universities, higher education providers and TAFE institutes. Peter has been instrumental to several major policy changes and reviews.

  • Leisel Jones - OAM former swimming world record holder and Olympic gold medallist

An Australian icon Leisel Jones is not only regarded as one of the world’s greatest ever female swimmers, but also as an exceptional TV personality, corporate speaker and health and lifestyle icon. Leisel’s professional swimming career includes 12 individual world records, 9 Olympic medals (3 Gold, 5 Silver and 1 Bronze), 7 World Championships titles, 10 Commonwealth Games Gold medals and 23 National titles.

At the 2012 London Olympic Games, Leisel created history by becoming the first Australian Swimmer to compete at 4 Olympic Games. Showing her true competitive nature in the pool, Leisel came away with her ninth Olympic medal, drawing her level alongside Ian Thorpe with the most medals won by an Australian Olympian.

Out of the pool Leisel established herself as an exceptional media talent with extensive experience in interviews, documentary and TV filming and TV commercials across both Free-To-Air and Pay TV.

  • Melissa Abu Gazaleh - Founder/CEO of Top Blokes Foundation and 2016 NSW Young Australian of the Year.

Melissa Abu-Gazaleh is Founder and CEO of the Top Blokes Foundation, Australia's leading boy's social education organisation that combats young men's anti-social and risk-taking behaviours. She is currently NSW Young Australian of the Year, Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Illawarra) and has been selected in Australia's top 100 Brightest Young Minds.

Today, Melissa speaks across Australia about how address young men's health and how we all play a part in raising the next generation of boys into top blokes.

  • Steve Somogyi -Chief Operating Officer at RMIT University from 2006 to 2016. Steve is now Principal Advisor to the Chief Operating Officer at Monash University, Executive Advisor to the Vice Chancellor at Victoria University and Executive Advisor to the Head of Services at the University of Melbourne. Steve has extensive experience in the financial services and health care industries, including 27 years with National Mutual and as Executive Member of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority for 3 years to June 2006.

Key Conference Themes

• Changes, challenges and global trends in Higher Education
• Research financial management
• Linking strategy and operational plans to forecasting revenue
• Differences of Australian University Finance support structures
• A centralised vs decentralised approach to financial management
• Mastering the landscape and language of Finance in Universities
• Finance from the eye of academic
• Improving Costing strategies in Universities – what is our product and how do we cost
• Beyond budgeting – rethinking the traditional approach
• Identifying and promoting the next financial leaders – nurture, cultivate and promote
• Managing Finance systems, data and integrated enterprise wide solutions
• Examining pricing decisions and the effect of solutions
• Financial statement to financial reports – value added, scorecards, dashboards etc.
• Capital and project planning, implementation and management
• Recognising the relationship between finance and risk management: Increasing requirements
• Rethinking finance: Finance as a University business partner – theory to practice


Registrations for this conference are now open. NB. Special Group Rates are available!

Register here

Registration fees, which includes 2 x day catering at the conference and the cocktail event on the Thursday evening, are as follows:

Group Discounts

Discounts are available on group registrations. Please email Leah Boucher with Registrants' names, email address, position title, department, cocktail function attendance and any dietary requirements, to organise a group invoice.


Special conference accommodation rates are available from:

1. Palazzo Versace Gold Coast

- Superior room - $272 per night

94 Sea World Drive, Main Beach QLD 4217 Australia
Toll Free (AU) 1800 098 000 or Phone +61 7 5509 8000

Book online or please quote 'ATEM University Finance Conference' on reservation to access the rate by phone.

2. Hilton Surfers Paradise

- King Hilton Guest Rooms - $239.00 per night (incl. breakfast for one)

- Two bedroom Residence Rooms starting from $339.00 per night (incl. breakfast for one)

6 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217 Australia

T: 07 5680 8000 or Email: surfersparadise.reservations@hilton.com

Please keep an eye out on this page or in our weekly newsletter 'Weekend Update' for more information as it comes to hand.

Register now

Conference Contacts

Laura Huf (for the 2017 UFC Organising Committee)
Leah Boucher (for registration & web)
e: email Laura Huf
p: +61 3 52479383
e: email Leah Boucher
p. +61 (0)412 999 514
ATEM | Web & IT Manager

NB. I work part-time in WA