Higher education research

Publication Date



Produced and published by the LH Martin Institute and the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)


There is a good deal of consensus that institutional diversity in higher education is a good thing. Simply put, systems with more diverse institutions perform better than systems with less diverse institutions. Yet the overall diversity of Australia’s higher education system remains unclear. Significant questions and opportunities remain unresolved. How diverse are Australia’s institutions today? How can stakeholders— particularly institutions and policymakers—understand and manage this diversity? This LH Martin Institute and ACER research briefing seeks to shift discussion of diversity to a more considered level. The analysis moves beyond extant sectoral partitionings and contingent policy interventions to expose emerging dynamics and prospects for institutions, and hence for the system as a whole. The authors have produced evidence-based profiles for Australian universities that mirror those being rolled out globally—namely from the U-Map and U-Multirank projects initiated in Europe. After contextualising this work, the heart of this briefing presents the profiles. Each institution profile contains five dimensions: Teaching and Learning, Student Profile, Research Involvement, Knowledge Exchange, and International Orientation. Each dimension contains a suite of data-driven indicators. The aim of this Research Briefing is to spur a new formative and evidence-shaped discussion that will enhance national policy and each institution’s strategy. The briefing closes by considering extensions to the indicator mix, to the population of institutions and level of analysis, and next steps that can be taken to further enhance transparency of the Australian university and, ultimately, tertiary education sector.