IRU students excel as New Colombo Plan 2017 scholars

The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) congratulate the twelve IRU students awarded New Colombo Plan Scholarships for 2017.

IRU scholarship winners will be supported to study and experience an internship in:

  • China: Elizabeth Dowrie, Griffith University and Georgia Toft, Griffith University;
  • Fiji: Katie Hicks, Charles Darwin University;
  • Hong Kong: Molly Jackson, Griffith University, Kimberley Johnson, Griffith University, Anna McKenzie, Charles Darwin University and Shaun Milligan, Griffith University;
  • India: Sidney Mason, La Trobe University;
  • Indonesia: Karis Erceg, Murdoch University and Hannah Sutton, Murdoch University; and
  • Singapore: Leah Brokmann, Griffith University and Rebecca Thorburn, La Trobe University.

The scholarships were presented to recipients by His Excellency General the Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove the Governor General at a ceremony last night [28 November 2016] following their announcement by the Hon Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The scholarships build off IRU members’ foundational commitment to engagement with Asia, exemplified by the creation of Australia’s first Asian Studies degree at Griffith University in the 1970s and our partnership with the Malaysia Research University Network.

IRU members enjoy long-established links with Asian counterparts. As opportunities for Australian interaction with Asia grow across all disciplines and areas of activity, IRU members lead the way in collaborative teaching, language, research and policy initiatives.  To learn more see

IRU Equity to the fore as two leaders awarded NCSEHE Equity Fellowships 2017

The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) congratulates its members who were awarded two of the three National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) Equity Fellowships for 2017.

IRU award winners are Associate Professor James Smith, Program Manager of the HEPPP ‘Whole of Community Engagement Initiative at Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Mr Matt Brett, Senior Manager of Higher Education Policy at La Trobe University.

The Equity Fellowships are funded by the Department of Education and Training under the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme (HEPPP) ‘to undertake strategic, high-impact, high‐profile leadership projects targeted, sector-wide, at improving the access, participation and success in higher education of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.’ (NCSEHE 2016).

The awards were announced today by Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham at the ‘Facilitating an Innovative Future through Equity 2016 National Research Forum’ hosted by NCSEHE at the National Press Club.

Associate Professor Smith has extensive experience working in executive and senior management roles in health and education sectors in government and non-government settings across the Northern Territory. Much of this work relates to improving Indigenous health and education outcomes.

Mr Matt Brett’s Fellowship will focus on equity performance and accountability systems and approaches. Mr Brett is co-editor and co-author of ‘Student Equity in Australian Higher Education, 25 Years of A Fair Chance for All’.

Ms Louise Pollard, Manager of the Aspire Program at the University of Western Australia, was also announced as an Equity Fellow for the coming year.

Through their year-long Fellowship, the Equity Fellows will work with the Department of Education and Training and the sector on projects that will identify equity issues that affect the Australian higher education system and develop approaches to address these issues.

As the university group most focused on ‘inclusive excellence’, the IRU is proud of its support and record in striving for equity and excellence in higher education for all.


Preparing graduates well for the future

With predictions that up to 40% of jobs will change completely or no longer be in existence in the next 20 years, how are universities preparing graduates for the ‘new economy’?  Will graduates in WA be ready for the post mining boom economy?

That’s the question being asked by The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) meeting today and tomorrow (Thursday) at West Australian member, Murdoch University, to discuss how best to ensure we create ‘Globally Relevant Graduates’.

Jan Owen, CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians, tells us that the current generation of Australians will be the first to be less well off than their parents. Increased casualization of work, the need for multiple careers and periods of entrepreneurship are predicted elements of the future which graduates face.

In the 1980s Australia responded to the high level of youth unemployment by doubling completion of year 12, reaching 77% by 1992.

“It is now clear that a reasonable expectation for employment requires a higher education or vocational qualification following on from school.  In response IRU universities have expanded since 2009 to provide the opportunity to all capable and interested applicants” said Conor King, IRU Executive Director.

“We need to ensure now that we support all those students fulfil their potential and are ready for the changing world of work ahead.  This requires universities to integrate the disruptive technologies affecting all areas of work across the world.”

The IRU Forum features external speakers from business, start ups and community giving their perspective about what is needed from university for future graduates.

IRU leaders will then use these challenges to identify ways ahead to meet graduate needs.  This includes agreeing the priority areas to work together to improve outcomes led by the IRU Vice-Chancellors’ Fellow, Dr Jessica Vanderlelie, how to work better with businesses in the communities around IRU members, and the next generation of integrating work based learning into curriculum.

The Innovative Research Universities group is a policy group positioned at the constructive centre of higher education and research policy in Australia. Existing in outer urban areas of their states’ capitals and in major non capital cities IRU universities are committed to inclusive excellence in education for the communities they serve. Inclusive excellence is the IRU commitment to reach and serve local and global communities through an effective response for all who seek our services at the highest standards in teaching, learning and research.

IRU comprises Murdoch University, Flinders University, La Trobe University, Griffith University, James Cook University and Charles Darwin University.

Disaster resilience: IRU research supports better preparation, response and adaptation for future disasters

Last night at Parliament House Canberra, Mr Jeffrey Bleich US Ambassador to Australia, launched IRU’s latest publication, “Disaster Resilience: Preparing, responding and adapting”, at a reception highlighting the network’s research strengths in this area.

Launching the Brochure Mr Bleich commented, “Domestically Australia and the United States have both experienced significant natural disasters in this year alone, with flooding in Queensland and the U.S. Midwest and South causing loss of life and widespread economic damage.

“You can’t prevent disasters, but you can reduce the loss of life and property that result from them and IRU research on disaster resilience is seeking ways to do just that”.

Capping $$ – what does this really mean

A system of capped funding?

What does it mean to change university funding to a capped funding amount which universities can use as they will? Can it both give Government certainty of expenditure and protect universities from micro managing of their operations?

Under current arrangements universities receive base funding based on the load of enrolled students in particular discipline areas. There are also various additional amounts, some such as regional loading added through the main Commonwealth Grant Scheme, others controlled as Other Grants which includes the university research block grants.

Universities seek renewed focus

Australia’s Innovative Universities in Asia, released today, shows how IRU members have led universities’ engagement with Asia since the 1960s. “Our Universities have been engaged in Asia since foundation. We had the first Asian Studies degree and were among the first to offer languages Asian languages and to set up research Centres focused at Asian countries and the region” says Professor Barney Glover, Chair IRU and Vice-Chancellor, Charles Darwin University.

“Over 2013 and 2014 IRU members will build on our strong foundation to deliver:

  • a wider range of courses and practicums in Asia, using the presence of other Australian students to overcome the challenges that living in Asia can pose;
  • an IRU Asian Languages Network, to overcome the pressure on individual languages in each university. This will support both: o strong interest in degree majors in Mandarin, Japanese, Indonesian and Hindi; and o a diploma in languages available for students of all degrees; and
  • improved research linkages, in particular with Malaysia, China, and Indonesia.”

Read more below.

Engage, Collaborate, Innovate

Engage, Collaborate, Innovate, released today, demonstrates the commitment of IRU members to successful, enduring partnerships with industry.

“Our Universities have a long track record in successful industry engagement to drive Australian innovation, productivity and economic growth.” said Professor Barney Glover, Chair of IRU and Vice- Chancellor, Charles Darwin University.

Engage, Collaborate, Innovate provides almost 40 examples of our work with industry, across many research disciplines, with links to partners across small to medium enterprises, larger firms, health and social service providers, businesses in regional and rural Australia and with those based internationally.