Former PMO chief economist and parliamentarian to lead independent higher education body

By Melissa Coade

Thursday April 14, 2022

Peter Hendy
Public policy expert and former MP Dr Peter Hendy. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

An economist and former Liberal MP who served as a senior advisor on training and skills development to the Australian prime minister has taken the reins as the new CEO of a representative group for independent higher education institutions. 

Public policy expert Dr Peter Hendy, a former assistant minister for finance (2016) and assistant minister for productivity (2015-16) and assistant cabinet secretary (2016), started in his role leading Independent Higher Education Australia (IHEA) this week. He succeeded Simon Finn in the role. 

Announcing the appointment, IHEA chair Alan Finch said Hendy’s credentials include time as a chief economist for the Prime Minister’s Office and as a Commonwealth Grants Commissioner since 2017.

“Earlier in his career [Hendy] was chief-of-staff to the federal minister for education, science and training,” Finch said.

“Further he has been a member of the audit board for a major review of the Australian University Qualities Agency, the forerunner of the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA). 

“He was also a member of the CEOs committee of the former Australian National Training Authority; a member of a national review undertaken by the Training and Technical Education Advisory Committee; and a member of the Business and Industry Higher Education Council,” he said.

The IHEA is more than 20 years old and comprises 74 member institutions serving the needs of over 100,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

“IHEA’s primary purpose is to represent its members and grow the respect and recognition of independent higher education and the contribution of a diverse range of providers to Australian education and the Australian economy,” Finch said. 

Dr Hendy has held a number of senior positions in the private and public sector, including as director of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO, and an advisory committee member of the former Australian Education International. In 2003, he was awarded a Centenary Medal for services to Australian society in business leadership.

Commenting on his new leadership role, Hendy said he was honoured and would hit the ground running. 

“I am keen to engage with members and stakeholders to advance the aims of IHEA,” he said.


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