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Generation IDP - 50 years of pioneering international education

In the early 1960s, a conversation between Indonesia’s Minister for Higher Education Australia’s Ambassador in Jakarta posed the question “is there a role for Australia to share agriculture science learnings with Indonesia?” (Thirty years in international education and development, 1999)

This discussion planted the seed for the start of IDP, an organisation that, in time, would grow to be a world-leader in its sector. More importantly, we would go on to help nearly half a million people change their lives through international education.

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Nibu – Part of our connected community of students, alumni and partners

While IDP is now a global enterprise stretching across 58 countries, its commitment to its students and the transformative power of education remains steadfast.

This year, as IDP Education celebrates 50 years, we look back on the key milestones that defined the international education sector and meet some of the extraordinary people who have benefited from IDP’s services.

Our purpose is unwavering: We are driven by a belief that education is the best way to make a difference to young people’s lives.

Andrew Barkla, CEO, IDP Education 

The early days... An Aid organisation

In 1969 IDP was formally established, initially as Australian Asian Universities Cooperation Scheme (AAUCS), to help develop universities in South-East Asia. This was connected to the Colombo Plan, an intergovernmental strategy that set out to strengthen economic and social mobility in the Asia Pacific region (Thirty years in international education and development, 1999).

Why does this matter?

While our original focus centred on building our regional neighbours’ skills in agriculture and food production, it marked the start of this Australian consortium cooperating for the benefit of students and teachers offshore.


Brand IDP introduced

In 1981, as AAUSC opened its first offshore office in Jakarta, Indonesia, we rebranded to International Development Program, later shortened to IDP (Thirty years in international education and development, 1999).

What does brand IDP mean?

IDP has grown into a brand synonymous with trust and credibility for students and families. Close to 9 in 10 students who use our services are likely to refer IDP to their family and friends. Our teams get it. They understand how big it is for a young person to decide to study overseas, and we are united by commitment to give advice that helps students take their next steps with confidence and clarity.

To be honest, if there's no IDP I wouldn't even leave the country. So, I would say I owe it all to IDP because they pretty much did everything for me. It's very hard to move to another country without any help, so I'm very grateful to IDP.

- Fernando, TAFE Western Australia

Australia opens its doors to international students, and IDP leads the way

In 1986, a new policy by Australia’s Hawke Government was introduced that allowed universities to accept full fee-paying international students. This was the catalyst for unprecedented growth in students coming to Australia (Making a difference, 2012).

As interest in destination Australia grew, IDP’s business model evolved to become an offshore representative for Australia’s public universities.

Why does university engagement matter?

As an organisation with aid roots and strong university ownership, IDP has been with our university clients from the start. We work with institutions as true partners to develop solutions that empower them to connect with the right students. 


IELTS redefines English language testing

In 1989 we partnered with Cambridge Assessment English and the British Council to develop and introduce the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to help Australian and British universities assess whether potential students have the English language capabilities to be successful in their studies.

Over the last 30 years IELTS has become the most trusted high-stakes English Language test in the world, relied upon by governments, educators and employers.

We trust IELTS to give us a benchmark of English language ability. Though we accept other English language tests, we assess them by comparing directly with the required IELTS score- Hannah Wain, The Scottish Agricultural College

What impact has IELTS had on the world?

The world has become increasingly mobile as people move across borders in search of professional and personal success. In this time, English has consolidated its position as the international language for business. IELTS is the most trusted assessment of ability to communicate in English.

For millions of people every year, achieving a desired IELTS score is the enabler to pursue their global goals.


Introducing the American Dream - more choices for students 

In 2009 IDP, already the industry leader for students considering studying in Australia, welcomed universities and institutions based in the US to our list of client partners.

This milestone kicked-off the development of our multi-destination strategy, which now supports students wishing to study in the six major English-speaking countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States. 

To me New York is a place that redefined me, where I found myself.

– Zeeshan, studying at NYU with help from IDP

IDP are our allies and partners in every sense of the word, in reaching out and encouraging students from around the globe to come and study in Canada.

- Shari Sekel, Brock University, Ontario Canada

The global platform build begins

In 2017, with the world’s leading physical office network now in place, spanning Greater China, South Asia, Australasia, South East Asia and the Middle East, IDP shifted focus to building digital support capability. This new direction was driven in response to the changing behaviours and preferences of our customers. We announced a bold vision to build the world’s leading platform and connected community to guide students along their journey to achieve their lifelong learning and career aspirations.

This vision took a significant step forward when we acquired the Hotcourses Group, a world-leader in online student engagement and marketing. The Hotcourses Group is now integrated into our global team, as IDP Connect.

Why shift focus on digital?

Students own their international education journey. IDP’s role is to be by their side and available when and how they want to connect. By creating a global platform and connected community of institutions, staff, services and alumni, we are supporting students to achieve their goals… and we know they will.

We are building global platform of students, language test takers, education institutions, service providers and alumni.

It is this connected community that empowers our students to succeed, wherever they are throughout their education journey.

Andrew Barkla, CEO, IDP Education

Just getting started

In 2019 IDP celebrates our 50th anniversary.  During this half a century, we have built a truly global community.

Our alumni network includes business and community leaders whose lives have been enriched, not only by their global education but also by their experience of new cultures, countries and people.

As we refine our global platform and grow our connected community, we are looking forward to what we can achieve with our customers.

We are committed to be by their side no matter when or how they choose to engage with us. We seek to enable our customers through our services to realise their potential.

We truly believe international education plays a major role in making our world a smarter and kinder community.

To our people, thank you for your unwavering dedication and continued support throughout this journey and to our institution partners, we are grateful for your shared commitment to students.

Most importantly, to our alumni, thank you for being part of Generation IDP.

We are excited for what the future holds for you and our next generation of global learners.


IDP helped me with so many things. I feel like they are my family and I can talk to them about anything. I am sure they will always be there for me, any time, any day.

– Gia Han, from Vietnam, studying in Adelaide.


Author                              Alec Lazenby and Denis Blight
Year Published                1999
Book title                         Thirty years in international education and development
City                                   Canberra
Publisher                          IDP

Author                              Dorothy Davis and Bruce Makintosh
Year Published                2012
Book title                         Making a difference
City                                   Kensington, NSW
Publisher                         University of New South Wales Press

For media queries contact:

Gracie Daniel
Corporate Communications Manager - Global
IDP Education

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