Julia Gillard receives honorary doctorate from University of Canberra
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Julia Gillard receives honorary doctorate from University of Canberra

Former prime minister Julia Gillard has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Canberra, recognising her service to education and gender equality.

Ms Gillard accepted the honorary degree on Friday at the university's Bruce campus with a speech that sought to reaffirm the legacy she hoped to leave in those fields.

Former prime miniser Julia Gillard receives an honorary doctorate from the University of Canberra.

Former prime miniser Julia Gillard receives an honorary doctorate from the University of Canberra.Credit:Jay Cronan

"I have to say that returning to Canberra invokes in me a series of mixed feelings, as one might well imagine," Ms Gillard said. "Some of the greatest highs and some of the hardest lows of my life have been lived in this city, though not in this place at the University of Canberra."

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Ms Gillard's link to the university is through her role as chancellor of the higher education start-up Dūcere, the university's partner in providing business degrees.

"I am pleased and proud that one of the things I get to do in my post-political life is spend some time and play a very small part in the outlook of this university in the new era in which we live," Ms Gillard said.

She said it was with a sense of a vision for the future that she accepted the award.

"I view it more than anything else as being about the power of that vision for the future, rather than a personal honour. But I have to say personally I am very pleased to receive it, and I thank you."

In her speech, Ms Gillard also touched on government reforms to higher education, vocational training and preschool during her time as prime minister, and praised the university for its innovation in education and position on world university rankings.

The university's vice-chancellor, Stephen Parker, said the honorary degree was in recognition of Ms Gillard's service to education, gender equality and the Australian community.

The honorary doctorate is the latest title Ms Gillard takes on in her post-political life.

She is currently a distinguished fellow with the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution in Washington, an honorary professor at the University of Adelaide, patron of the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library and on the board of directors of Beyond Blue.

Last year Ms Gillard was appointed chair of the Global Partnership for Education.