Our student debaters are world beaters

26 July 2013

(L-R) The winning team USU 2, Nina Ubaldi, Paul Karp and Daniel Swain.
(L-R) The winning team USU 2, Nina Ubaldi, Paul Karp and Daniel Swain.

University of Sydney students have outclassed teams from 123 institutions in 15 countries to cement their position among the world's best debaters at the Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championships in Malaysia.

The University of Sydney Union (USU) debaters took out the grand final with a convincing 5-2 split against Victoria University, Wellington with a compelling case supporting the notion 'that women should be criminally liable for damage caused to the foetus in-vitro as a result of their lifestyle choices'.

The winning team, USU 2, was one of eight from the University, and included Daniel Swain, Paul Karp and Nina Ubaldi. Six of the University of Sydney teams made it to the top 24, and four teams reached the top seven.

Six USU debaters were also named in the top 10 speakers in the tournament, colloquially known as Australs, including Daniel Swain as Best Speaker and Paul Karp as Best Reply Speaker.

"Australs is the second largest debating competition in the world, so it's fantastic to get a big win," says Solange Handley, Director of Debates at the USU and third-year Bachelor of Arts student.

"The grand final was an exceptionally high quality debate. It was a really impressive team from Victoria Wellington, so it was stunning to watch."

The University of Sydney has a strong debating tradition, with the USU originally formed in 1874 as a debating institution.

In addition to their success at Australs, the USU also boasts the reigning Australian Intervarsity Champions and the Australian Women's Champions. In the last five years, the University's debaters have competed in tournaments in Botswana, Turkey, New Zealand, Ireland, Thailand, Canada, Malaysia, the United States and the Philippines.

"Debating at university is a fantastic opportunity to meet people, spend time with people with similar interests and travel. It's a lot of fun to challenge yourself with difficult questions. Debating has influenced every other aspect of my life," Solange says.

"Anyone can get involved in debating. We have students from a broad spectrum of studies, and often it's the students from areas you wouldn't traditionally associate with debating who bring the most interesting perspectives."

USU also sent 11 adjudicators to Australs, including Solange, seven of whom were qualified to adjudicate the finals.

Follow University of Sydney Media on Twitter

Media enquiries: Katie Szittner, 02 9351 2261, 0478 316 809,