- There were 1,313,776 students enrolled in higher education in 2013, a 4.5 per cent increase, or around 50,000 additional students compared with 2012 enrolments. Of these, more than 761,000 students were supported by the Government through a Commonwealth-supported place funded under the CGS.
- The proportion of students from low socio-economic backgrounds participating in higher education increased from 17.1 per cent in 2012 to 17.3 per cent in 2013.
- Over $1.68 billion was provided in research block grants to support research and research training across all disciplines in eligible Australian higher education providers.
- The number of students supported under the Research Training Scheme increased by 2.5 per cent to 25,782. Funding also supported 3500 new Australian Postgraduate Awards and 330 new International Postgraduate Research Scholarships.
- The Australian international education market continued to increase, contributing over $15.6 billion to the economy in 2013 from across higher education, vocational education and training, English language training and the schools sector. International student enrolments increased by 3 per cent from 2012 to 2013.
- In 2013, international student mobility grants were offered to more than 5000 Australian students to study overseas, compared with around 1300 in the previous year.
- Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships were offered to 629 recipients for 2014.
- The establishment of the NCP, with over 1300 students to undertake short-term and semester study and work placements in Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong over 2014.
- Funding of $50 million was provided for 17 projects under the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme to help disadvantaged students, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, to attend university by partnering with schools and communities to build aspiration and prepare students for higher education.
- Under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, 27 research facility infrastructure projects have been supported to offer services to the research sector. The Collaborative Research Networks programme continued to support growth in the research capacity of 15 smaller and regional universities through partnerships with 18 larger more research intensive universities and 12 other publicly funded research and private organisations.
- The Review of the Demand Driven System was released in April 2014. The findings and recommendations of the report were used to inform the development of the higher education reform package announced in the 2014–15 Federal Budget.
- In October 2013, the Government response to the Review of Higher Education Regulation was released, and all recommendations were accepted by the Government. First steps towards the implementation of an appropriate deregulatory agenda included changes to the work of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency ( TEQSA), with the establishment of the TEQSA Advisory Council and introduction of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Amendment Bill 2014 to Parliament in February 2014.
- Seven national priority projects were supported under the Australian Maths and Science Partnerships Programme, totalling $5.2 million, to improve engagement in mathematics and sciences.
- Under the National Disability Coordination Officer Programme, 31 providers were appointed for the second round of funding for 2013–2016.
- The Office for Learning and Teaching funded 99 innovative projects, including in areas of learning analytics, graduate employability and technology-enabled learning; along with five major projects commissioned to enhance the training of maths and science teacher education. Citations and awards recognising quality higher education teaching practices were granted to 171 recipients.
The New Colombo Plan
More than 1300 undergraduate students from 39 universities across Australia will study and live in a country in the Indo-Pacific region in the 2014 pilot year under the Australian Government’s signature programme, the New Colombo Plan (NCP).
Students travelling under the pilot phase of the NCP mobility programme will take up places at institutions in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore for study across a wide range of academic fields including law, education, culture, medicine, science, technology and engineering. Study experiences vary across projects and include both short-term study—including practicums, clinical placements, research, field studies and business internships and work placements—as well as longer-term semester-based study.
This year, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery students from James Cook University travelled to Singapore for four weeks of medical clinical placements. The students were placed with the Singapore College of Family Physicians to observe specialist treatment practices for tropical diseases such as dengue fever. The students also gained experience in the challenges of working in rural and remote areas and building skills as generalist doctors.
The Government has committed $100 million in new funding over five years to implement the New Colombo Plan. The programme has two key elements: a mobility programme and a scholarships programme. It will be rolled out more broadly across the region from 2015.
The NCP is jointly administered by the Department of Education and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.