Professor Bruce Chapman Awarded 2018 U21 Gilbert Award

Award date
May 2018

Professor Bruce Chapman has been awarded the Universitas 21 2018 Gilbert Medal which recognises outstanding contribution to international higher education.


Professor Chapman is a pre-eminent economist and academic at the Australian National University (ANU). His career at ANU began in 1984, with his most recent professorial appointment as the inaugural Sir Roland Wilson Chair of Economics. He is celebrated for designing the world’s first national Income Contingent Loan (ICL) scheme for student fees. The scheme was introduced in Australia in 1989 and has been the catalysis for significant international reforms of higher education student loans. Professor Chapman’s innovation lies in the creation of a fee payment scheme that does not compromise equity of access and allows nations to develop mechanisms to fairly fund the world-wide challenge of expanding higher education participation. 

Professor Chapman's influence on the shape of higher education today, both in Australia and internationally, is significant. His development of ICLs has contributed globally to higher education by expanding the opportunity for millions of students around the world to gain access to higher education. His work on ICLs for students has had direct and indirect impact on higher education systems and higher education funding policies globally.

Professor Chapman has made major contributions to policy development in higher education funding, both nationally and internationally, and continues to be one of the most influential figures in higher education policy circles, contributing extensively to public debate about education. An international expert on higher education funding, his expertise is drawn on by agencies and governments around the world.

His world-leading innovation in higher education funding has had a sustained impact for almost three decades. The longevity and international reach of Professor Chapman’s contributions to higher education sets him apart and makes him a richly deserved winner of the U21 Gilbert Medal.

Professor Chapman will be awarded the Gilbert Medal at the U21 AGM hosted at the University of Melbourne this May. The 2018 Awards Ceremony will be held in a new gallery, Buxton Contemporary, located within the University of Melbourne’s arts precinct at its Southbank campus. The gallery is supported by a significant philanthropic gift and endowment by Michael Buxton and family. Michael Buxton has donated his private contemporary Australian art collection to the University of Melbourne, which features more than 300 works by significant Australian artists including Howard Arkley, Ricky Swallow, Tracey Moffat, Emily Floyd and Bill Henson. Delegates will have the opportunity to view artworks following the awards presentation.

On hearing of the award, Professor Chapman said:

It is an honour to receive the Gilbert Medal, named after a committed university leader who well understood the value of the effective internationalisation of higher education. My goal with research and policy engagement has been defined by the critical role played in higher education by financing policies. Most student loans systems around the world are in trouble or in crisis, and there are useful and evidence-based ways to explore how to best to reform these systems to be more inclusive and fairer.

U21's Provost, Professor Bairbre Redmond, shared her congratulations on behalf of the network:

I am especially delighted that Professor Bruce Chapman has been awarded U21's highest accolade, the Gilbert Medal. This is not just because of his stellar contribution to international higher education and the worldwide acknowledgement that he has received on the impact of his work.  As someone who has lectured in higher education policy, I can also attest to the fact that students themselves (with a very vested interest in student fees) are always genuinely interested and engaged in Prof Chapman's theories of Income Contingent Loans, primarily judging them to be equitable, efficient and of long-term good for students and the broader society. A very real and tangible recognition of his considerable achievements.