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Education and research

Australia’s world-class universities are home to brilliant researchers, cutting-edge specialist expertise and a strong ability to apply and commercialise knowledge with industry and community partners. They are a vast resource of research and innovation for business and research institutions.

Australia’s universities are at the global forefront of research in 20 critical fields, including space science, physics, computer science and clinical medicine. They’re a magnet for global talent and research and development partnerships. 

Australian universities are consistently ranked among the world’s best, with 7 in the world’s top 100. This is reflected in our highly educated workforce, as 47% of workers have a tertiary qualification.

Australia provides opportunities for innovative businesses and smart individuals who want to be directly involved in the sector. It’s also the heart of our research and development ecosystem, directly supporting the many industries and technologies that are thriving in Australia.

 

Clever collaborators

More than A$10.6 billion a year of all business income in Australia flows from collaborations with universities. That averages out to $662,000 for each of the 16,000 businesses that currently collaborate with a university. And the estimated benefit to our national economy is A$19.4 billion a year.

We spend A$34 billion a year on research and development, placing us alongside the UK, Singapore and France as one of the highest spenders on R&D. 

A man with safety goggles uses a precision robot in a lab

World-beating R&D hubs

Australia’s universities host some of the world’s leading hubs for research, development and training. Underpinned by a strong community of practice, these hubs will provide you with a forum to share your ideas and learn from the brightest minds in industry, academia, government and education. Find out more about Australia’s strengths in higher education research.

Australia is a trusted partner of international governments, multilateral organisations and multinational companies. Australia has more than 9000 agreements and partnerships with universities globally, and the Australian Government funds targeted programs to support practical connections between academic researchers and industry.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Hubs foster partnerships between universities and industry to produce world-leading research and real-world commercial outcomes.

The National Research Infrastructure Strategic Framework includes $2.2 billion investment to address NRI priorities. This includes funding under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy that drives research excellence and collaboration between 35,000 researchers, government and industry to deliver practical outcomes.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), our national science agency, is recognised internationally for its quality research and is Australia’s largest holder of patents. It works collaboratively across the nation, connecting industry to global supply chains.

Co-operative Research Centres (CRCs) also link industry with the research community, and help commercialise new technologies. There are research centres and collaborative programs for most industries, including advanced manufacturing, fintech and health.

‘The case for collaboration is increasingly compelling, particularly for companies seeking growth and new competitive advantage. Australian universities are now well-positioned to provide an extraordinary array of technologies and services to support companies. It is often the unexpected or flow-on benefits – such as access to graduates for employment, or introductions to other partners, suppliers, and customers – that make a collaboration with a university especially valuable for a company’ – Dr Peter Binks CEO, Business/Higher Education Round Table
 

  • 31,000+ courses across 1,200 CRICOS registered institutions, including 39 comprehensive Australian universities 
  • 7 Australian universities in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings 2021
  • 15 Nobel laureates graduated from Australian universities
  • 880,000 international student enrolments in 2020, spread across secondary and tertiary facilities
  • 90% of international students in 2020 were from Asian countries
  • Spending on education in Australia exceeds the OECD average
  • Ranked 4th for spending on higher education as a proportion of GDP among OECD countries 
  • Australian universities ranked in the top 10 in the world across 11 fields of study: from earth and marine sciences, to mining engineering, law, nursing, politics and philosophy
     

A magnet for international students

We’re the world's third most popular international student destination, with almost a million international students choosing Australia for their secondary and tertiary education in 2019. Thanks to our attractive post-graduate visa options, many international students stay and work in Australia once they complete their studies. Australia is a vibrant country that welcomes people from around the world. Our international students join a millions-strong Australian alumni community.

Three students sit in the cloisters of a university looking at one student's laptop. They are smiling and relaxed.

Outstanding graduate outcomes

Australia has outstanding graduate outcomes: 86% of Australian Bachelor degree holders and 96% of Australian Masters by Coursework degree holders are employed within 4 months of graduation.

 

Group studying

Embracing the edtech revolution

Australians are tech savvy, digitally connected and highly educated and are naturally embracing the edtech revolution.

Our edtech sector almost doubled in size between 2017 and 2019 to become the second largest startup community in the country behind fintech. There are more than 600 edtech companies in Australia generating A$2.2 billion in revenue and employing around 13,000 people.

And it’s not just schools and tertiary institutions enjoying an edtech revolution – the market for corporate and vocational learning products is growing rapidly too.

All of Australia’s established edtech companies and 84% of our late-stage startups export their products and services to global markets. Some of our world-class solutions, platforms and programs in the edtech space include Stile Education, 3P Learning, Cahoot Learning, Learnosity, Mathspace and OpenLearning. Our burgeoning digital games industry is providing skills and technologies in the edtech space.

 

  • 600 edtech companies
  • 13,000 people employed 
  • A$2.2 billion in revenue 
  • 100% of established companies exporting globally
  • 84% of late-stage startups exporting globally
  • Breakdown by education sector:
    • 1% early learning childhood
    • 42% primary and secondary schools
    • 22% higher education
    • 17% vocational training
    • 18% workforce
       

Connecting, collaborating, accelerating in edtech

Opportunities for Australian edtech companies to support global education outcomes are growing and emerging rapidly. There are also increasing opportunities for international partners to work with, collaborate and invest in Australia’s edtech sector.

Edtech industry hub EduGrowth facilitates these connections and accelerates Australia’s edtech ecosystem globally. If you’re looking for investment or partnership opportunities in the Australian edtech space, you’ll find information on 100 of our most successful edtech exporters in the Australian EdTech Directory.

If you’re a startup looking to get your edtech product off the ground in Australia, you’ll find support in one of the 110-plus incubators and accelerators housed within some of our top universities. These include Cicada Innovations, University of Melbourne Accelerator Program and University of Sydney Incubate.

Sustainability goals

Australian universities are good global citizens when it comes to tackling inequalities, living environment and climate change. This makes Australian universities attractive partners for collaborative research into sustainability, global development and technology. Our universities are ranked 2nd globally for having an impact on UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The world university rankings 2021: Impact on United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 

 

A table showing the economies with the most universities in the top for impact on Sustainable Development Goals. Australia ranks 2nd with 17. UK is top with 20
Source: The Times Higher Education, 2020, Impact Rankings

 

A table tanking Australian universities for their contribution to Sustainable Development Goals. The top 3 are University of Sydney, RMIT University and La Trobe University
The Times Higher Education, 2020, Impact Rankings

Resources and support

Case studies

Through a collaboration with online learning platform, FutureLearn, the Australian Government has been offering a suite of short courses by Australian Higher Education and English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students providers. Between April and end June 2020, this program attracted over 836,000 enrolments from all over the world.

Factsheet

Australia’s education and research ecosystems

Recent arrivals

Photo of Nicholas (Nik) Higgins