About  >  About US

IHEA represents the majority of Australia’s registered and accredited independent higher education providers

Our membership includes independent universities and colleges with campuses across Australia. IHEA members educate students in a range of disciplines including Law, Engineering, Agricultural Science, Architecture, Business, Accounting, Tourism and Hospitality, Education, Health Sciences, Theology, Creative Arts, Information Technology and Social Sciences.


The Australian independent higher education sector comprises more than 170,000 students and 120 institutions, with independent providers variously accredited to offer courses across the full AQF range (diplomas up to doctorates).

IHEA members are higher education institutions educating domestic and international students in undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Our diverse membership includes large independent universities, colleges, business schools, niche providers and professional associations with for-profit and not-for-profit business models. IHEA members offer a range of accredited higher education awards from bachelor degree through to doctoral studies.

All members are registered and accredited with the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) – the Australian government’s regulator of all universities and higher education providers.

Membership of IHEA is a badge of quality for Australian independent providers. Admission to membership is conditional on agreement with IHEA’s Code of Good Practice built on regulatory compliance, strong governance, ethical business models, quality teaching, and student engagement.

Independent Snapshot

10 % of Australia's higher education students are enrolled with an independent provider. And these numbers are continually growing with enrolments at independent providers increasing at a faster rate than public universities.

Our Name

Higher Education is evolving – and so are we.

In 2001 our organisation was formed under the name COPHE – Council of Private Higher Education, at a time when independent providers needed a peak body to advocate on their behalf. Since then, the sector has seen enormous change. More and more students are choosing independent providers and education has grown to be Australia’s third largest export industry.

Today, enrolments at independent providers are increasing at a faster rate than at public universities and our members are recognised as a vital part of Australian higher education.

To reflect such sector changes and to equip our organisation for the future, we changed our name to IHEA — Independent Higher Education Australia — in February 2019. Our new name better describes who we are and what we do, and helps to further increase awareness of the independent higher education sector.

Under our new name – IHEA – we’ll continue to play an active role in the higher education sector and support our members, Australia’s best independent providers who enable today’s learners to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Play Video

Benefits Of Membership

IHEA’s strong national advocacy is informed by our diverse range of members across Australia. As a peak body for Australian independent higher education providers, IHEA supports its members through:

Advocacy and Representation
On key issues impacting independent providers and their students. As a recognised peak body IHEA has the access our members need to represent them.

Regulatory Support
Direct representation to the higher education regulator – TEQSA.  Our MOU with TEQSA enables strong advocacy on behalf of our members.

Policy Influence
IHEA advocates sector reforms to government agencies, parliamentary committees and department forums to influence the higher education policy environment.

Professional Development
Our network of sector experts and professional development activities foster best practice and high quality education and student support in independent higher education.

International Education Representation
IHEA is at the table of government policy setting forums for international education including student visa policy.

International Education Members Network
The IHEA international education network brings together the expertise within our membership to lead best practice in international education.

Academic Library Network
IHEA’s Academic Library Service unites our collective membership strength to gain access to the best academic libraries from around the globe.

Benchmarking Initiatives
The IHEA Benchmarking Initiative, launched in 2016, targets current and emerging issues and compliance with the Higher Education Standards Framework.

Student Protections
IHEA’s members have access to essential tuition assurance schemes that ensure compliance with TEQSA and HESA legislation.

Professional Service Affiliates
We connect our members with the highest quality professional services provided by our affiliates including legal services, education consultancies and VET sector advice.

Member Services
IHEA’s advocacy and representation, professional development support, benchmarking, academic libraries, tuition assurance deliver a valuable member services package.

Respect and Recognition
IHEA membership is recognised as a badge of quality.  Our core objective is building recognition and respect for our members and independent higher education in Australia.

Membership of IHEA is only open to providers that are registered and accredited by the national regulator TEQSA – the same regulator as Australian public universities. Membership is also conditional on continued compliance with IHEA’s Code of Good Practice built on regulatory compliance, strong governance, ethical business models, quality teaching, and student engagement.

Quality Education

Quality Indicators in Learning and Teaching (QILT) data reports higher rankings for student satisfaction in teaching quality and skills development at independent institutions than public universities.

One of the best measures of education quality is an independent survey of student experience. IHEA members’ commitment to quality teaching and student support is highly regarded by students, with independent providers dominating the top 25 rankings by undergraduate students for teaching quality, skills development and student support.

These rankings are determined by the Australian Government’s survey of all universities and higher education providers – Quality Indicators in Learning & Teaching (QILT). Students rank independent providers in 24 of the top 25 scores for teaching quality and student support.