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A passion for independent higher education in Australia

Over the last 20 years Australian higher education has changed significantly. Today, education is Australia’s largest service sector export industry, and the third largest of the total economy.  Australia is recognised as having a world class education system. This recognition is not built on public universities alone – Australia has high quality public and independent education institutions. Student enrolments at independent providers are increasing at a faster rate than at public universities.

IHEA members are leading the way in high quality independent higher education.  Our members are Australia’s best independent providers with a passion for enabling today’s learners to be the leaders of tomorrow.

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2001
The Council of Private Higher Education (COPHE) is formed
COPHE (The Council for Private Higher Education) is established in recognition of the growing number of students choosing an independent higher education.
2001
2004
COPHE welcomes its 12th member
As recognition that independent higher education needs a peak body and the benefits of having a single voice for providers grows, so does COPHE membership.
2004
2007
COPHE membership grows to 27
Further expansion of the independent higher education sector sees rapid growth in COPHE membership. The reputation of the peak body develops as the government begins to interact more with independent providers.
2007
2008
The Bradley Review recognises diversity
An independent review of the future direction of the higher education sector is led by Emeritus Professor Denise Bradley. The final report recognises the value of independent higher education and the future growth envisaged in the sector. Significant recommendations propose policy settings to grow the benefits of equity, diversity and choice through supporting the independent and public higher education sectors.
2008
2010
COPHE institutes a Code of Good Practice
In 2009, COPHE leadership implements a members' Code of Good Practice to grow the recognition of the commitment to quality assurance by COPHE members. In 2010, all members sign the first Code of Good Practice and compliance with the Code becomes a condition of acceptance to COPHE membership. The Code continues as a membership condition today and is regularly updated to reflect best practice and the high standards of entry to the IHEA membership.
2010
2011
TEQSA is established
As an outcome of the Bradley Review, in 2011 a single higher education regulator, TEQSA, is established. TEQSA implements a register of higher education providers that ensures listed providers meet the quality standards. All IHEA members are registered and accredited with TEQSA as a condition of membership.
2011
2012
Don Owers, AM joins IHEA board as chair
As a former member of the Office for Learning and Teaching Expert Panel, the TEQSA Ministerial Advisory Committee and the TEQSA Standards Transition Advisory Group, Don brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our organisation.
2012
2013
Lee Dow-Braithwaite Review
In 2013, Professor Kwong Lee Dow and Professor Valerie Braithwaite are commissioned to review higher education regulation and to undertake an initial assessment of the work of TEQSA. 11 recommendations are made in the final report with TEQSA implementing operational reforms in response to those recommendations.
2013
2014
COPHE membership continues to grow
By 2014, COPHE has become a well-established and respected peak body representing and advocating for independent providers and giving them a voice to speak to government and the broader community. In recognition of the quality of that representation, COPHE’s membership keeps growing.
2014
2016
Higher education becomes Australia’s third largest export
Higher education becomes Australia’s third largest export, with students coming from ever more diverse social, economic and educational backgrounds.
2016
2016
Simon Finn joins COPHE as CEO
After a successful career in politics, as a State MP and Minister in Queensland, and a previous career in higher education administration, Simon Finn joins COPHE as CEO.
2016
2017
COPHE relocates to Melbourne
In 2017, COPHE establishes its head office in Melbourne. The location provides for regular access to the national regulator and improved member service delivery.
2017
2017
Student Quality Surveys (QILT) report independent providers dominating the top 25 quality rankings by undergraduate students
QILT surveys are independent consumer surveys funded by the Australian government. Independent providers dominate the highest quality rankings for learner engagement, skill development, teaching quality, student support and overall quality.
2017
2018
COPHE Membership continues to grow
Recognition of COPHE's reputation for representing high quality providers and its increasing advocacy and policy influence in the sector is reflected in a growing membership. 17 registered providers join COPHE membership in 2017/18 with almost 90,000 students now enrolled with a COPHE member.
2018
2019
Independent Higher Education Australia (IHEA) is launched as a new identity for COPHE
This new identity as IHEA reflects an evolving and growing organisation with established recognition in Australian higher education. As the independent sector continues to evolve and grow, our new name better describes who we are and what we do. Under our new name, IHEA, we continue to play an integral role in the sector and actively participate in future developments of higher education in Australia for the benefit of our members and their students.
2019

FUTURE OUTLOOK

Demand for higher education will continue to grow.

As demand for skilled and job-ready graduates continues to grow, demand for high quality education will grow also.  And as our environment becomes more complex, more will be demanded from our workforce, requiring greater agility and flexibility, more specialist knowledge, and higher levels of professionalism. Demand for the continual development of skills in current roles and the acquisition of new expertise, as roles change will see increased demand for innovative course design, industry connection and flexible delivery models.

Disruptive technologies, global trends, changing student expectations, new requirements of our graduates’ employers, and legislative reform will continue to shape and influence our sector.  Reviews of the Australian Qualifications Framework and the Provider Category Standards reflect the need to keep the sector up to date with the changing economy.

Independent higher education providers are well placed to meet this fast changing market demand and the challenges of the future workforce. 

“IHEA membership is, quite rightly, a badge of quality.”

– Sen. The Hon. Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training, May 2018

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