Boosting participation in tertiary education will deliver major benefits for Australia

 The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) welcomes the announcement today by the leader of the Labor Party, Anthony Albanese, for an additional 20,000 university places over the coming years. 

This announcement recognises the central role of universities in supporting the economic development of their communities and Australia’s post-COVID recovery. 

IRU Executive Director Paul Harris noted the focus on national skills shortages and on increasing the participation of under-represented groups in tertiary education. 

“The IRU stands for inclusive excellence in both education and research. Our universities are spread right across the country, in major cities and regional areas, and are training future workers in critical sectors such as health, education and technology,” he said. 

The additional places proposed by the ALP would support the continued expansion of access to university, with a demographic bump leading to increased numbers of school leavers over the next four years. 

“The IRU believes in broadening participation, which in turn delivers major economic and social benefits to the nation. Already 50% of all of our students are the first in their family to attend university and the IRU is proud to have more First Nations students enrolled than any other group of Australian universities. We believe that there is unfinished business in equity and participation and we welcome the prioritisation of under-represented groups in this announcement.” 


IRU contact 

Paul Harris, IRU Executive Director 

M: 0497 439 867 | E: 

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IRU leading the way in diversification and offshore education

The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) is ready to deliver on the Australian Government’s Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030, which focuses on a sustainable and diverse sector.

IRU members are already leading the way in international student diversity and offshore delivery. China, India, and Nepal are the top three countries of origin for international students in Australia, making up 63% of international student enrolments across the sector but only 54% at the IRU.

The IRU is also leading the way in offshore delivery, with over 30% of our international students already studying in an offshore mode, and above-average levels of student satisfaction for both undergraduate and postgraduate international students.

IRU Chair and Griffith University Vice-Chancellor Professor Carolyn Evans welcomes the release of the Strategy, which highlights that IRU members are well positioned for the future.

“The strategy focuses on areas in which the IRU is already leading: diversification of international students, greater offshore delivery, and enhanced international student experiences,” she said.

“COVID-19 has had major impacts on international education over the last two years, both for students and for universities. We agree that new models are needed for the future and we look forward to working with government to develop successful and sustainable new approaches.”

Australia has one of the most internationalised university sectors in the world, with our engagement in international education and research delivering huge benefits for the nation over decades. Almost 60% of IRU research is done in partnership with leading international academics.

IRU Executive Director Paul Harris points to the opportunities for collaboration with government under the Strategy on new models of international education.

“Our eight members are already working together for a consortium approach to diversification,” he said. “The Government’s commitment to working with other countries to remove barriers and to working with universities to attract international students offers significant steps towards growing transnational educational opportunities.”