The facts

Our universities make an enormous contribution to Australia’s economic & social prosperity.

The work of Australia’s 39 universities drives economic growth, extends the frontiers of knowledge, makes life-saving breakthroughs and helps the nation to transition in an era of sweeping digital disruption.

In coming years, Australia will need to create new jobs and new industries to replace the 40 per cent of jobs tipped to disappear within two decades.

To make the dramatic economic transformation ahead, we will rely even more heavily on the research breakthroughs and highly-skilled graduates produced by our world-class universities.

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Powering Australia’s economy:

Universities directly contributed $25 billion to our GDP in 2013 and the skills of our graduates were worth $140 billion to the economy in 2014.

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A major employer:

Universities employ over 120,000 full-time equivalent staff and help support another 40,000 jobs in the broader economy.

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Innovation powerhouse:

University research has added $10 billion to Australia’s GDP each year for the last 30 years – equivalent to one-third of the growth in our living standards over those three decades.

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A major export:

International education is Australia’s third largest export and our largest services sector export, generating income of $19.2 billion a year and underpinning Australia’s research, trade, investment and diplomatic engagement with the world.

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Graduate demand keeps growing:

Australia’s economy will need another 3.8 million skilled graduates in the next decade. Growth sectors such as education, training and health care are projected to need at least 30 percent more skilled graduates by 2025.

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Bigger than mining:

The total value of Australian research is estimated at $160 billion – more than the entire value of Australia’s mining industry.

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Skilling Australia:

In 2014, our universities educated 1.3 million students and produced 300,000 skilled graduates to meet the workforce needs of a rapidly changing economy.

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Industry collaboration:

Australian universities have listed over 6,000 inventions online at SourceIP, enabling business to use them in industry to improve processes and profitability. Half of university research income comes from industry and other users of research.

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The lifeblood of regional economies:

Universities contribute over $2 billion each year to Australia’s regional economies and sustain over 14,000 regional jobs.

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Globally connected:

There are now 8,515 formal agreements (up from 4,474 in 2003) between Australian universities and their global counterparts, enabling crucial research collaborations and the exchange of students and staff. These include 1,237 in China, 967 in the US, 572 in Germany, 479 in Japan and 466 in France. Through Universities Australia, the sector also has major country-to-country agreements with China, Japan, India, the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Israel, Peru, Colombia and Brazil.

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Transforming lives:

Every day, more than a billion people around the world rely on Australian research discoveries that improve their lives. The national income from such innovations helps to lift wages and living standards for Australians.

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World-leading research:

Australia accounts for 3.9 per cent of the world’s research output with only 0.3 per cent of the world’s population. In the latest Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) rankings, 89 per cent of Australia’s university research areas were rated as at or above world standard, with 62 per cent above world standard. Outstanding university research has enabled us to achieve national research strengths in 43 research areas.

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Recognised for excellence:

Australia’s world-class university system is in the top 5 per cent of the world in 2015/16.

  • The QS World University Rankings had 7 Australian universities in the top 100, 8 in the top 200 and 21 in the top 400 universities globally.
  • The Times Higher Education World Rankings had 22 Australian universities in the top 400 universities globally. Australia also had 16 universities in the top 100 universities aged under 50 years.
  • The Academic Ranking of World Universities from Shanghai Jiao Tong University has 19 Australian universities in the top 400 globally.

We need to maintain funding

If we want to continue to support ideas that save lives, generate new jobs and industries and compete with the rest of the world; we need to continue to invest in research, innovation and higher education.

That’s exactly what other smart nations are doing. If we don’t make a similar investment, Australia will never reach its full potential.

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