Claire File on all the HE that isn’t at uni


With recent media attention on New York University receiving JobKeeper funding, and one in ten students choosing a private university or non-university higher education provider (NUHEP), it is timely to consider these institutions

Firstly, a note that “public” and “private” are shorthand terms when describing the higher education landscape. Australian Catholic University’s undergraduate students are all government-funded and hence it is included in most discussions as a “public” university despite being a private, not-for-profit, entity.

By contrast, many undergraduate students at the private, not-for-profit, University of Notre Dame Australia are not eligible for a Commonwealth Supported Place. And just to add to the confusion, governments own some NUHEPs (for example, the National Art School) and some receive CSP funding for their undergraduates.

To be clear then – ACU is excluded from this quick analysis; the other private universities are included along with all of the non-university HEPs.

The sector is centred on New South Wales with almost half (44 per cent) of all institutions reporting student data in 2019 based there.

The largest is Torrens University with 17,892 students (larger than Charles Darwin University, the University of Canberra and the University of the Sunshine Coast), followed by UNDA (11,727 students) and Holmes Institute (11,124).

They tend to fall into one of six categories (albeit with some overlap):

  • pathways provider (e.g. Monash College)
  • specialist provider (e.g. International College of Hotel Management)
  • theological college (e.g. Alphacrucis College)
  • International students (e.g. Holmes Institute)
  • professional associations (e.g. The College of Law), or
  • TAFE Institute (e.g. TAFE NSW).

As a group, they educate as many postgraduate students as undergraduates. Growth in the last 12 months has been in domestic postgraduate students (up 9.5 per cent), with many enrolling in professional associations and specialist business schools.

And NYU?

Its study abroad offerings in Sydney sit outside of TEQSA’s legislative purview and hence it is not included in data on the Australian higher education sector.

Claire is an advisor to the tertiary education sector. In a recent episode of the ‘What now? What next?’ podcast she spoke with Dr Laura Hougaz on entrepreneurism and innovation in the independent higher education sector.


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