Australian universities could open campuses in India in ‘broad-ranging’ education deal
India-Australia/By: Caitlin Cassidy/Source: https://www.theguardian.com/
Minister Jason Clare will sign agreement on upcoming trip to India as experts point to ‘tremendous opportunities’ for Australia
Australian universities could soon establish offshore campuses in India under a new groundbreaking agreement announced by the education minister.
In a speech at Universities Australia’s gala dinner on Wednesday evening, Jason Clare confirmed he would use next week’s trip to India to sign the most “broad-ranging” agreement of its kind in the nation’s history. It comes as the government ramps up development prospects in the rapidly developing tertiary sector.
The agreement locks in rules for mutual recognition to access education in the two nations, including qualifications provided online and offshore.
“I am advised it’s the broadest and most favourable recognition agreement that India has signed with any country to date,” Clare said on Wednesday.
Late last year, India announced new regulations allowing foreign universities and educational institutions to open offshore campuses and repatriate profits in a range of courses such as financial management, science, technology, engineering and Stem.
Appearing on ABC Radio National on Wednesday morning, Clare said he would talk to the Indian government about the opportunities for Australian universities to set up more campuses onshore.
“We’re talking about hundreds of millions of young Indians getting vocational and higher education qualifications over the next few years,” he said. “They want our help, and I think it’s in the interest of Australian universities and Tafes and vocational providers to see what we can do to help there too.”
Clare will be accompanied by the foreign minister, Penny Wong, 11 vice-chancellors, five peak groups and a regulator on his trip abroad.
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, will visit India the following week, in a sign of “how serious” Australia is in engaging with the world’s largest democracy.
Clare said the number of international students starting a degree over the past year was up 38% on the year prior, but some countries, including India, were returning faster than others.
There has been a 160% jump in the number of students arriving from India to begin a degree in Australia at the same time Chinese student enrolments have dropped.
At the Australian Technology Network of Universities, Indian applications and offers are almost double 2019 levels, while Chinese applications are at 75% and grew by just 7% from 2022 to 2033.
The Group of Eight CEO, Vicki Thomson, chair Brian Schmidt and deputy chair Mark Scott will be among those in attendance, and will host a “critical technology dialogue” alongside the ministers.
Thomson said there was a “sense of urgency” from both sides to ramp up the partnerships.
“We have quality universities and researchers – and yet the opportunity to scale has been constrained,” she said. “That must change.”
At the Universities Australia conference on education on Tuesday, the vice-chancellor and president of UNSW, Prof Attila Brungs, said a key objective of India’s sweeping new education plan was the promotion of internationalisation.
He cited the University of Wollongong and Monash University as already forging strong partnerships with universities in India.
Monash was one of the first Australian universities to respond to the changed regulations, with the introduction of two new double masters programs in international development and public policy in partnership with Indian institutions.
Academic fellow at the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration India Dr Brigid Freeman said there was an “extraordinary sense of dynamism” as the national education plan – to be implemented over the next two decades – progressed.
“There’s been a tremendous scaling up in the interest in internationalisation and … tremendous opportunities on the ground for Australian universities to engage.”
Dipesh Shah, executive director at the International Financial Services Centre Authority, said he’d “never seen such huge momentum” in India’s education sector.
Shah said Australian institutions were in a prime place to establish partner campuses and to “expect announcements very soon”.
“Australian universities are at the doorstop to deliver courses in India,” he said.
“Over the life of the national education plan India will be the third largest economy in the world … [education] is a big part of [India’s] economic strategy.”
Shah said even with a rapid expansion of Indian students in Australia, total demand still exceeded millions per year and it was “impossible” to expect the nation’s domestic campuses could keep up with demand.
“We’re a wonderful fit in multiple ways,” he said. “Australian educational institutes in India could aspire for large scale [education], large numbers and a lower cost base.”
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