| International, Media Releases, Students

International education is part of Australian universities’ core mission to educate

International education is part of the broad mission of Australian universities to educate people no matter their background, the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) group has said in response to today’s speech by Education Minister The Hon. Alan Tudge MP.

Mr Tudge’s speech explores important issues regarding a major element of universities’ mission to deliver education and research to Australia and the world.

We welcome the Minister furthering debate on this important aspect of Australia’s higher education sector and look forward to responding to the proposed Australian Strategy for International Education.

The IRU is concerned that in setting out the rationale for international education, the Minister omits the value of universities educating all interested students, providing opportunities to Australians and people from other countries able to pay for access to a world-class education.

IRU members have ensured that international revenue is a realistic proportion of their revenue, drawing on students from multiple countries to ensure a good education outcome for all students, Australian and international.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been tough, leading to a sudden and severe downturn in income from international student fees. The true extent of the impact is only now being seen with low numbers of new students in 2021 and even fewer in 2022 if students cannot enter and leave Australia.

The Commonwealth must work with state and territory governments and universities to develop a clear roadmap for the safe return of international students, beginning with small but scalable pilots in each state and territory.

That the Minister has no such plan to approve on his desk is a sign that developing State-based plans for the return of students have so far proved too difficult to make work. The Commonwealth and the state and territories need to find a simpler way to approve pilot return programs.

The Minister rightly argues the potential to extend online learning to many more people around the world.  The Covid year has shown the potential for such study but also raised the challenge of ensuring that students are ready for online learning and have the infrastructure to support it.

In his argument for a more nuanced approach to international education, the Minister endorses the Government’s action in 2020 to underpin the Research Support Program.  In moderating the contribution to research-led education from international students, the Government will need to extend its investment at a suitable ongoing level to ensure Australia’s research capability remains strong.

| Research

IRU welcomes Government agenda for greater research commercialisation

Government plans to improve the commercialisation of research provide a welcome Government agenda for 2021, the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) group has said – but the Government must provide additional support to make it happen.

Speaking at The University of Melbourne today, Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge outlined his positive vision for a University Research Commercialisation Scheme “to better translate and commercialise university research outputs”.

The IRU, which represents seven Australian universities with a research focus on solving real-world problems, supports better structural incentives for businesses to work with universities to improve products and operations. IRU members support innovation hubs across Australia that help small to medium innovators to translate early business ideas into successful companies. More can be done to support this work through government, business and university collaborations.

The IRU will respond constructively to the Government’s consultation paper published today.

Commenting, IRU Executive Director Conor King said:

“It was exciting to hear the Minister’s positive plan for a major step change in how Australia supports translating our world leading research into action.

“Everybody wants to see more commercialisation of university research. The challenge is making sure the right incentives are in place to make it happen.

“Governments, businesses and universities all have a role to play. The renewed focus on commercialisation of research is welcome, but the Government needs to drive the work through additional support for universities.”