The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) is a coalition of public universities across Australia committed to inclusive education and innovative research that advances our communities. 

Our membership is Flinders University, Griffith University, James Cook University, La Trobe University, Murdoch University, University of Canberra and Western Sydney University.

Our members’ commitment and impact is both local and global with a focus on advancing communities through education, resources, opportunities, translational research and enterprise.

Through its members working collectively, the IRU seeks to be at the constructive centre of Australian university policy making, influencing political developments beyond individual university capacities to do so.

The IRU members’ research focus is on the translation and commercialisation of research on issues of critical importance to the communities in which they are based and addressing problems of national and global scale. Over time our members have developed their own particular research strengths, with multiple areas of research at and well above world standard.

The history of our member universities goes back to the 1960s and early 1970s when, under both Liberal and Labor governments, there was an expansion of new forms of higher education and research to meet the needs of the nation. As capital cities and regional centres grew, new universities and colleges were established to open up access to students. 

The public universities in the IRU trace their history to this moment in Australia’s social and economic development. Our members are young and dynamic universities, with a shared commitment to innovative models of education and research that serve their communities. 

From their founding, IRU members pioneered new forms of inter-disciplinary teaching and research, for example in environmental studies. Today, our members are multi-campus universities with a continued commitment to sustainability and social transformation. 

Our universities were the first in the country to establish schools of modern Asian studies and the IRU remains committed to strengthening understanding of, and engagement with, our region for the future of Australia. Through our strategy, we will prioritise work to deepen key partnerships across the Indo-Pacific. 

The IRU was established in July 2003 as a coalition of comprehensive research universities, with a commitment to innovation, that aimed to build upon their connection to local communities for a more collaborative and coordinated approach at the national level. 

Read more about our history.

Read our 2022-2027 Strategic Plan.

Our shared values


An openness to new ideas and to working together to develop new approaches, so that education and research contribute to social progress.

Mutual Respect

To underpin effective collaboration across IRU members and to support constructive engagement with communities, policy-makers and other partners.


A focus on equity in all aspects of our work, to ensure that education and research are as accessible as possible to the community.


In our work with academic colleagues and policy-makers, we commit to sharing quality information, rigorous analysis and evidence-based policy. 

Find out more about our Members

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