Before returning to UQ as Chancellor in 2016, Mr Varghese had a 38-year career in public service and diplomacy.
Before returning to UQ as Chancellor in 2016, Mr Varghese had a 38-year career in public service and diplomacy.
13 March 2019

University of Queensland Chancellor Mr Peter Varghese AO was last night presented with the Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop 2018 Asialink Medal.

The medal is awarded annually to an Australian who has shown long-term commitment to enhancing quality of life in the region and improving Australia-Asia relations.

Mr Varghese, UQ Chancellor since July 2016, had a 38-year career in public service and diplomacy, holding senior positions in foreign affairs, trade policy and intelligence.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj AC congratulated Mr Varghese on receiving the prestigious medal.

“Peter is an outstanding leader for UQ because his thinking is globally minded and strategic and represents all that the University seeks to build in our graduates,” Professor Høj said.

“He understands the importance of Australia making strong global connections, including with Asian nations, and he has devoted his life’s work to that end.

“He is thoroughly deserving of this latest accolade.”

Asialink, an affiliate of The University of Melbourne, was established in 1990 as a joint initiative of the Australian Government's Commission for the Future and the philanthropic Myer Foundation.

Asialink aims to build “an Asia-capable, deeply Asia-engaged Australia through thought leadership and innovative programs that build knowledge, skills and partnerships”.

It champions "soft diplomacy" – delivering high-level forums, international collaborations, leadership training, education, community health and cultural programs in Australia and Asia.

Mr Varghese, who is of Indian heritage, served as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2012-16), High Commissioner to India (2009-12), High Commissioner to Malaysia (2000-02), Director-General of the Office of National Assessments (2004-09), and Senior Advisor (International) to the Prime Minister of Australia (2003-04).

He wrote the comprehensive India Economic Strategy to 2035, commissioned by the Prime Minister and submitted in July 2018.

Mr Varghese was educated at UQ, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours and a University Medal in history in 1978. He was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2010 and received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from UQ in 2013.

He sits on the boards of AMP Pty Limited and North Queensland Airports. He is also on the international governing board of the Rajaratnum School of International Studies in Singapore and the governing board of Nalanda University in India.

Contact: UQ Communications,,  +61 7 3365 3439.