I'd like to start by thanking James Connolly, who finished his term as ANUSA President last week, for his contributions. James' passion for student welfare has been evident in the number of initiatives he spearheaded over the past 12 months. These include the establishment of Canberra Rape Crisis Centre counselling on campus and negotiating a new agreement to improve students' ability to provide feedback on their university experience. I have enjoyed working with James and wish him all the best on the great things he is sure to achieve in the future, as he continues his degree at ANU. As we farewell James, we welcome the new ANUSA President, Eleanor Kay, who I look forward to working with over the next year.
We had a significant win this week in the latest round of NHMRC funding with 18 ANU Researchers receiving grants totalling $12.8 million. The breadth and depth of medical and health research at ANU cuts across mental health, population health, genomics, immunology and cancer, and involves sophisticated technology, infrastructure and the brightest minds. NHMRC funding paves the way for life-changing research to occur. Congratulations to all of the recipients, we look forward to seeing the results of your research.
More than 25 years on from the introduction of Australia's Higher Education Contribution System (HECS), the ANU College of Business and Economics hosted a higher education financing forum this week. We had representatives from countries including Brazil, Colombia, Japan and Malaysia who were looking at Australia's HECS system to see if it might work in their contexts. HECS was designed here at ANU by Professor Bruce Chapman, and many countries around the world are looking to the University and our experts to shape their own student loan systems. It's great to see that this public policy designed by Bruce continues to have an impact in Australia and internationally.
On Wednesday I attended the inaugural conference of The Asian and Australasian Society of Labour Economics (AASLE), a joint initiative between academics in the Research School of Economics and the University College London. Our contribution to Australia's understanding of, and role in, Asia and the Pacific has defined ANU since its founding. An amazing group from around the world in attendance, it highlights some of the most important work being done on the economics in our region. We have the expectation - and the privilege - to be at the leading edge of research in this area and it's groups like AASLE that will play a pivotal role in deepening our engagement with Asia.
On a sad note, ANU lost two of its leading Emeritus Professors, Ken Inglis AO and Colin Groves in the last week. Ken was a distinguished and much loved historian who spent the major part of his career at ANU. Colin was a giant in his field of anthropology and taxonomy, and a great teacher and mentor. Both were great treasures of ANU. On behalf of the University I offer my condolences to the families of these esteemed ANU researchers. They will be missed.
Finally, to all the students about to graduate, congratulations on this achievement! Don't forget, you will always be lifelong members of the ANU Community and I look forward to seeing you all cross the stage next week. I will be clapping loudly in your honour.