Recent reports from Universities Australia illustrate that over the past two decades there has been a steady increase in the number of formal agreements between Australian universities and international institutions. The peak body representing the university sector in Australia has been tracking the international linkages of Australian universities on a regular basis since 1991. In June of this year, they released two reports. The first, International Links of Australian Universities: Formal agreements between Australian universities and overseas higher education institutions, maps overall linkage activity, while the second, Offshore Programs of Australian Universities, examines the number and range of educational programmes that are wholly or partly delivered overseas by Australian institutions.
In 2014, Australian universities had 8,305 formal, institution-to-institution agreements in place with their higher education counterparts overseas. This represents an increase of more than 16% since Australian universities were last surveyed in 2012 – when the number of agreements totaled 7,123 – and an increase of more than 49% since 2009, when the number of agreements was 5,561… As for the type of international links that Australian universities have established, over 64% of current agreements include a component of academic or research collaboration. Other types of links include cooperation facilitating student exchanges (53.89% of current agreements), staff exchange (45.39%), and study abroad arrangements (23.98%).
But while “study abroad” may represent the smallest percentage of current agreement types, the linkages in this area have increased the most over the past decade. The number of study abroad agreements rose from 852 in 2003 to 1,992 in 2014, an increase of 134%.1
Links and number of agreements by region
Table 2 below indicates the number of agreements in each region. Australian international university links continue to be dominated by North-East Asia (27 per cent) and North-West Europe (29 per cent), however, links in North-East Asia continue to grow at a greater rate than in North- West Europe. Latin America has been identified by Universities Australia as a strategic priority for international engagement; there are currently 378 formal agreements in place between Australian and Latin American institutions comprising just four per cent of total agreements but showing an increase of 38 per cent on 2012 figures compared with just eight per cent growth in North America (Figure 5).
International Links Data
Universities were asked to indicate the name of their overseas partner institution, what activities are covered in the agreement, the year in which the agreement was first signed and whether the agreement is currently active.5
- Spain 2014 University links data (70kb pdf)
- Demand for Spanish
- Demand for Spanish in Europe
- Student demand in Australia
- Australian universities forging links with Latin America