International Institute for Higher Education Research & Capacity Building

Professor Dr. Michael Spence AC

Dr Michael Spence took up his post as President & Provost of UCL on 11 January 2021. Prior to this he was Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney (2008 – 2020), the first university to open its doors in Australia in 1850. Under his leadership, the university rose to first in Australia and fourth in the world for graduate employability. He embedded diversity and inclusion in the university’s culture, delivered significant investment in multi-disciplinary research activity, transformed the undergraduate experience and created strategic partnerships with leading industry, government and community organisations across the globe.

As Vice-Chancellor, Dr Spence was responsible for raising a record one billion Australian dollars through the INSPIRED philanthropic campaign – the largest philanthropic campaign in Australian history. This fundraising transformed the university’s campus by funding major new research and education centres, bringing resources to life-changing medical research and providing more than 2,000 scholarships and education initiatives for new and existing students.

Dr Spence is recognised internationally as a leader in the field of intellectual property theory and holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford, where he headed Oxford’s Law faculty and Social Sciences division. An alumnus of the University of Sydney, he has first degrees in English, Italian and Law, and graduate training in theology, Chinese and Korean.

Dr Spence has been involved in the Church all his life and was ordained after training for the priesthood at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. 

In 2017, he was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours for service to leadership of the tertiary education sector, to the advancement of equitable access to educational opportunities, to developing programs focused on multidisciplinary research, and to the Anglican Church of Australia.