Reginald Appleyard interview, 13 December 2013, 2 January 2014, 8 January 2014 and 14 January 2014

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Reginald Appleyard interview, 13 December 2013, 2 January 2014, 8 January 2014 and 14 January 2014




Emeritus Professor Reginald Appleyard was born in Western Australia in 1937. After leaving school he worked as an office boy before joining the Merchant Navy. During this experience he witnessed a world in a state of reconstruction post World War II. This would direct his future life as an economic demographer. On returning to Perth he enrolled as a mature age student at UWA where he obtained first class honours in economics. He went on to study at Duke University before coming back to Australia to work at the Australian National University. He came to head the chair of Economic History at the University of Western Australia in 1968. He was quickly made head of the Department of Economics, a position he held until his retirement in 1992.

During the interview he talks of his impressions of University of Western Australia and his efforts to direct the economics department into an international department. He speaks of the importance of Asia and his desire to establish strong academic links with Australia’s neighbours. He travelled extensively as a part of his career and has been dubbed the Fly Out Fly In Professor.

Professor Appleyard is an author and editor of many books and over 100 articles and reports, his main field of study is economic demography, and his specialty is international migration. He talks of his extensive research and writing and views on international migration. Throughout the interview Professor Appleyard reflects on the development of the isolated University of Western Australia in a changing world.


Appleyard, Reginald


University of Western Australia Historical Society


Copyright holder University of Western Australia


MP3 files


Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


John Bannister


Reginald Appleyard


Interview 1: 43 minutes, 25 seconds
Interview 2: 32 minutes, 25 seconds
Interview 3: 43 minutes, 49 seconds
Interview 4: 33 minutes, 23 seconds
Total: 2 hours, 33 minutes, 2 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbs

Time Summary

Interview 1

00:00:00 Born in Claremont in 1937. Family background in Victoria. Father’s army experience. Brother Jim was killed in action in WWII. Sister Betty. Intensions to join the ministry. Memories of the merchant navy and Liverpool.
00:07:40 Interest in the world. The effect of WWII. Merchant navy influence of future and career. Memories of schooling. Swanbourne and Fremantle boys. Serious thoughts of a career. UWA honours degree. Rockefeller foundation fund. UWA from 1950-4. Elders Smith’s office boy.
00:11:50 Initial impressions of UWA. Memories of economic department at UWA. Arnold Cook and Alec Kerr.
00:14:14 Memories of years of the merchant navy. Memories of Liverpool. Seeing the world Japan Panama canal. Memories of a Deck Boy. Memories of the Philippines. A damaged world directs career. Singapore and Europe in early recovery post WWII.
0018:35 Aims to help facilitate world recovery. Interest in joining the UN. Decisions to be independent. Going to UWA honours degree in economics. Interest in economics. The Rockefeller foundation and duke university. Memories of UWA.
0021:50 Sound sense of community. Memories of Alec Kerr. Arnold Cook. Inspired to work. Spending quality time of learning at UWA. Interaction and other subjects in a social science degree.
00:27:35 Encouraged to go to Duke University. Working with Spengler. The importance of the university and Joseph Spengler and economic demographer. Memories of Duke University. Wife Iris.
00:30:30 Coming back to the Australian National University department of demography. Interviewing students for a longitudinal study of British migrants and Greek migrants. Concerns of the British migrants. Migrants return.
00:35:00 Memories of ANU. Conclusions work into later career 1968. Ian Bowen* head of department. Chair of Economic History. Obtaining the new chair of Economic history.
00:38:00 The new economics building by the James oval. Memories of Sir Stanley Prescott. Prescott lays down the guidelines. Aims of the new chair of Economic History. Theoretical, historical and dimensional issues of measurement. Round understanding of economics. People involved in issues related to their interests. Economic history as a part of a trilogy. Impressions of the changed university on return in 1968. The change to the department of economics.

Interview 2

00:00:00 Development of economics history. Internationalisation development of department. Attracting people to the university. Japanese studies. Professor Ghosh, Gabbay and Siddique.
00:03:00 Advertising in Asia. Understanding the UWA was different from other universities. Ron Ghosh took on a significant role at the University. Universities around Australia look at Economics department at UWA. Asian influence. The popularity of UWA for Asia.
00:07:25 Support from within the university. Travel. Seeing UWA on a global scale. Meeting people from around the world. Involved in connections with the Economic department and local business. State government and interest from big business. BHP, Wesfarmers and Woodside. Connections and involvements with business.
00:11:00 Key involvements and interest with Asia. Japanese Studies unit. The developing of a Japanese room and garden. Will facilitate Japanese Studies and learning. Development of the garden. 00:15:05
00:18:08 Memories in involvement in the International Organisation for Migration. UWA changes and unique developments compared to the eastern states. UWA deemed to be different. Fly Out Fly In Professor. Consulting with the United Nations.
00:21:50 Visitations to the UN and international involvements and conferences. Broadening of understanding of migration and emigration.
00:24:50 Developing concepts. 1981 conference in Bangkok. The way in which analysis can be used. Taking on the role of department head. Building up the department. Members of staff happy for Reg to remain in the position.
00:28:30 Memories of Professor Siddique. international flavours and the economic department develops a community within the University. International travel. The impressions of the unique development of the department.

Interview 3

00:00:00 Perceptions of UWA. The departments collaborate. Theoretical and direct connections. Economic Department strongly connected to developments. The erosion of the university club.
00:04:55 Economic department and self development. Internatoinisation and the international student. Growth of the international student at UWA. A plan to encourage international connections. The Fly in Fly out Professor. Realisation of developments and the ripple effect.
00:08:55 Connections with the vice chancellor. Committee meetings with sir Stanley Prescott. Important relevant issues for the growth of UWA. Limited contact with vice chancellors over 25 years. Contributions from other chancellors.
00:14:10 Allan Robson view of the university. 1982 third Asian pacific population conference. Population and ESCAP region and flows of migrant people. Lack of data and composition of workers. Strategies devised. Importance of attendance at conferences. Benefits for UWA.
00:19:09 Bureaucratisation and limitation of the development of the university. Economic development of island states in the Indian ocean. Commos and Mauritius. The Seychelles and the Maldives. 1986 conference was held in Perth.
00:25:00 The importance of the conference to the development of department of economics and the University.. Competition grows in Perth impacts of UWA. Curtin and UWA. Interaction between campuses.
00:28:45 Centre of migration studies conference in 1987. Impact in general on countries of migration. Grants obtained and the difficulty of obtaining funding.
00:30:40 Funding and the lack of money. Unpaid extracurricular activities. Intensions to develop the department on own bat.
00:33:20 Conference in Rome and trends in international migration in the 1990 and beyond. migration and asylum. International population and global movement.
00:37:50 UWA’s expansion and connections.
00:40:10 Gabbay and Ghosh touch upon the contributions brought from overseas. The beginning of the process of migration from Asia. Limit in size and the growth of students. New business school. The growth in student and staff numbers. World rankings and the university’s place.

Interview 4

00:00:00 Impressions of the ranking system. Evolution of the university. Impressions of the role of the academic. Running the organisation. Research, teaching, travel and overseas contacts.
00:03:50 Academic life dominated by management and administration. The economic and non-economic factors in the dynamics of international migration. Interrelations to other topics and departments.
00:07:29 International migration in a changing world. Development factors in WA and migration. Seeing the future of migration to the future of WA. Issues of people smugglers and asylum
00:13:45 Myths and realities of migration. The passion and process of writing. The history of Trayning.
00:17:35 Member of the Scientific advisory board Lagos Nigeria. Collaboration. Foundation chair of advisory council CURTIN business school. Committee to review regional development commissions act. Busy in retirement.
00:21:40 Order of Australia medal 1999. Only one Appleyard in the Who’s who. Awarded the Hellenism award. Honorary life trustee of economic development in Australia. Acting director graduate school of management. Director centre for migration and development studies.
00:25:30 Views of the economic department at UWA today. Aspirations of rankings. UWA today. Significance of the department. Strength to become as good as possible. Technologies minimise isolation.
00:28:50 Seeing the university moving forward. Evidence of moving up the ladder of continued improvement. The US Asia centre. Leadership and focus in other parts of the world.
00:31:50 Sir Winthrop Hackett and his understanding of education. Thoughts of Sir Stanley Prescott’s opinions of the University of WA. Seeing the university in very good shape.



Appleyard, Reginald, “Reginald Appleyard interview, 13 December 2013, 2 January 2014, 8 January 2014 and 14 January 2014,” UWA Historical Society: UWA Histories, accessed July 13, 2024,