Equity and Access

In the last two decades, Australian society has grown, diversified, and faced unprecedented changes. For people and communities across the country, access to important services in health and education remain a challenge. Within this landscape, the IRU has been proud to expand its members’ commitment to access and inclusion within the higher education system, as well as facilitating research that expands equity and access to essential services for all Australians.

The IRU is a leader in providing access and support for student groups that have traditionally faced barriers to higher education. Half of all IRU domestic students are the first in their family to attend university and IRU members also educate disproportionately high numbers of First Nations students and students from low-SES backgrounds.

The IRU educates approximately one in five students from regional and remote areas of Australia. The research and education programs undertaken by IRU members give priority to improving access and participation in higher education, while developing impactful support systems for student success.

Readying a rural health workforce for northern Australia

James Cook University

Since its establishment in 2000, James Cook University’s medical education program has undertaken an ambitious and research-driven approach to building the medical and health capacity of northern Australia. As the first medical school located entirely in regional Australia, JCU’s initial intake of 60 students has since grown and supplied more than 2000 medical graduates who now work in Australia’s regional and rural areas.  

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Creating safe spaces for vulnerable students

La Trobe University

Each year, more than 1.4 million students enrol in Australian universities. But many barriers to accessing higher education still remain for young Australians. Utilising multidisciplinary expertise and educators, researchers at La Trobe University have developed a series of programs to improve the educational attainment of vulnerable students in both secondary and tertiary education. 

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