In 2003, a group of universities sharing common origins established the Innovative Research Universities as a collaborative network to enhance the outcomes of higher education.

The members were established as research-intensive universities during the 1960s and 1970s, a dynamic period characterised by massive expansion in higher education and extensive innovation in educational design and delivery – hence, the network name ‘Innovative Research Universities’.

The founding six universities were: Flinders University, Griffith University, La Trobe University, Macquarie University, Murdoch University and University of Newcastle.

Consistent with the aim to support individual universities as they evolve and grow, the membership of IRU has changed over time.

James Cook University joined in 2007, followed by Charles Darwin University from 2009-2022.

These additions were balanced as first Macquarie (2008) and then Newcastle (2014) left the group to pursue their futures independently.

Western Sydney University joined in 2017 and the University of Canberra joined in 2021, with the current membership standing at seven universities.

Since its inception, the IRU has been at the constructive centre of Australian university policy making, influencing political developments beyond the capacity of individual university members. We advocate policy that supports excellence in teaching, learning and research that has local relevance and global applicability.


Innovative Research Universities was founded in 2003 by six universities.


In 2007 James Cook University joined Innovative Research Universities.


Charles Darwin University joined the Innovative Research Universities group in 2009 and remained a member until 2022.


Innovative Research Universities welcomed Western Sydney University in 2017.


In 2021 the University of Canberra joined Innovative research Universities.