Past winners - Academic Leadership


In 2017, we awarded 2 joint winners Barbara Craig, Acting Head of Centre, Macquarie University English Language Centre and Jennifer Coster, Deputy Director English, Monash University English Language Centre.  It is the first time we have awarded joint winners for this award.

The judges found it difficult to decide between these 2 nominees because both demonstrated equally exemplary leadership skills, yet had quite different leadership qualities. The judges did not want to favour one style of leadership over the other and thought that both nominees served as excellent role models to other academic leaders in the ELICOS sector.

Barbara has a distinct ability to encourage staff to get involved in projects, conferences and publications – and even win awards - and her energy and passion for her staff is obvious to all. She is a true leader in the way she supports staff to develop and grow and promotes a sense of community in her centre. Barbara has also fostered strategic and key relationships with other departments of Macquarie University and her commitment to ELT is evident through her many conference presentations both in Australia and abroad. 

 Academic Leadership – Jennifer Coster, Jenny Osbourne (IELTS) & Marc Weedon-Newstead

 Joint Award winner Barbara Craig, Macquarie University English Language Centre


Jennifer has an obvious talent for leading and inspiring others and she employs a diverse breadth of management skills.  She is a strategic thinker, has the ability to rise to organisational challenges and is committed to raising the profile of her institution. Jennifer goes above and beyond her position at Monash University through her generous involvement in the ELICOS sector, most recently demonstrated by her ongoing participation in the English Australia CPD Framework steering committee.  

 Academic Leadership – Jennifer Coster, Jenny Osbourne (IELTS) & Marc Weedon-Newstead

 Joint award winner Jennifer Coster (L), Jenny Osbourne (IELTS) & Marc Weedon-Newstead, Chair English Australia



The 2016 Award was given to Lynda Beagle, Director, RMIT English Worldwide, VIC.

The judges felt that Lynda’s nomination showcased her strong commitment to the continuing professional development of her staff, with a focus on the ‘reflective process’ as a tool for development. Lynda has also pioneered a program for early career development within her centre, which was seen as essential and innovative by the judges. Lynda is clearly a wonderful mentor and the encouragement she gives to her staff shone through in her nomination.

The judges also noted that Lynda has had a depth of experience across a range of ELICOS roles and felt that the current success of the continuing professional development program at RMIT English Worldwide was a culmination of this extensive experience.

Award winner Lynda Beagle with Brian Smith, IELTS (L) and English Australia Chair Marc Weedon-Newstead (R)



The 2015 Award went to Sheree Millen, Director of Studies at Curtin University, Perth, WA. 

The judges felt that Sheree’s nomination displayed a strong and sustained commitment to changing the PD culture of her department and creating a strong community of practice within. This change effected over four years is reflected in the high percentage improvements and positive feedback from the independent university staff surveys in 2014. Sheree has clearly gained the confidence of her staff through her own investment in their development and by encouraging them to take ownership of their learning. The development of an inclusive CPD framework to create a community of practice within the team as well as a keen focus on student outcomes was the catalyst for the cultural change within the department. 


Award winner Sheree Millen with Jenny Osborne from IELTS Australia and Marc Weedon-Newstead, Chair of English Australia.



The 2014 Award went to Stephen Heap, Director of Studies at the Institute of Continuing & TESOL Education, the University of Queensland (ICTE-UQ).

Stephen is an outstanding academic leader. He is held in high regard by his colleagues at ICTE-UQ as well as by many throughout the industry in Australia and abroad, for his service, professionalism, collaboration and customer focus. He was instrumental in developing, delivering and championing the International Diploma of Language Teaching Management (IDLTM), which has itself contributed to the development of academic leadership within ELICOS. Stephen is a great role model and an inspiring leader.

2014 Academic Leadership Award

 Stephen was presented with his award by Jennie Lynch (IELTS) and Marc Weedon-Newstead, Chair of English Australia.


The winner of this year's Award for Academic Leadership was Karen Benson from Strathfield College, NSW. The judges thought this was an outstanding nomination, indicating someone with exceptional leadership skills across all areas of academic management. They were very impressed with the range of support and testimonials from within and outside her college, demonstrating her commitment to ELICOS as well as to her college and to improving learner outcomes.


Karen Benson (right) receiving her award from Ceinwen McNeil,IELTS



The winner of the 2012 Award for Academic Leadership was Ruby Biscuit, time National Manager of Ability English and based in Sydney, NSW. Ruby started teaching for AG Mate, which subsequently became Ability English, in 2002. When she became Director of Studies there she did so with two goals: she wanted to prove a) that CELTA-trained teachers from small private colleges can contribute as much to the industry and the future of ESL teaching as degree-trained teachers working in publicly funded organisations, and b) that a private college can be profitable from investing in and empowering their greatest asset - teachers.

Ruby has several beliefs underpinning her leadership style.
• She has a belief in the potential of her staff and students to be more than they could imagine.
• She believes strongly in doing something thoroughly to the best level that it can be done, and she actively creates that culture by challenging her staff in this regard.
• She also highly values open and regular communication with empathy and has invested in a lot of personal development in this area, training her managers to do the same.
• She makes sure she is current in the latest ELT research and industry trends to best guide her staff and the organisation.
• She prioritises highly individual expression for the advancement of the group and applies leadership models and principles that align with this leadership approach.

The judges felt Ruby’s nomination was truly inspirational and a perfect example of the type of academic leader ELICOS needs. Ruby is clearly held in high esteem by her manager as well as by the staff she leads and English Australia is looking forward to seeing Ruby become a role model for academic managers throughout Australian ELICOS.

Ruby Biscuit

Ruby Biscuit (R) accepting her award from IELTS Australia's Research Coordinator, Jenny Osborne



No award was conferred this year. Although it was clear that colleges appreciated the excellent work done by their academic managers English Australia and IELTS were keen to ensure that the award is given to a truly outstanding educational leader.



The winner of the 2010 inaugural award was Paulo Vieira, Director of Studies at Bond University English Language Institute in the Gold Coast. Paulo has been involved in international education for more than 15 years, before which he worked in the political arena. Paulo was nominated for his commitment to quality student support and outcomes as well as for his business, organisational and people management skills. Paulo has been involved in many projects, committees, reference groups and working parties to promote ELICOS and the Gold Coast as a study destination. Paulo also received mention for Outstanding Academic Leadership in a recent NEAS accreditation report.