Opportunities to re-think Australia-India university partnerships the focus at higher education roundtable

09 February 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the education aspirations of students globally' but has also brought opportunities to re-think and re-frame how institutions can work together to develop innovative' sustainable and successful partnerships.

That was the key topic of discussion at a recent Australia India Business Council (AIBC) education roundtable' where O.P. Jindal Global University and CQUniversity Australia joined forces to reimagine education post COVID-19.

The roundtable brought together a group of higher education leaders from India and Australia' providing input to future policy frameworks' and suggesting opportunities for innovation in education partnerships.

The roundtable participants discussed their vision for collaboration and the policy settings required to support the development of sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships. While the pandemic has accelerated many changes and created significant pressures within the education sector' the conversation focused on 'where to next' and how to build for the future.

The roundtable experts recognised that the growth of digital connections and the ability to use technology has seen collaboration in ways that had not previously been possible. Rather than go back to how things were' discussion was focused on how to build on innovations to take us forward' and ensure that policy settings are aligned to the needs of the new education reality post-COVID.

Founding Vice-Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University Professor (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar said that in the past decade' a lot of effort had gone into advancing India-Australia educational collaboration.

'People have come to know and appreciate the extraordinary reputation of Australian universities and the very high degree and emphasis they put on quality training' research' scholarships and publications'' Professor (Dr.) Kumar said.

'The Centre for India Australia Studies at O.P. Jindal Global University worked hard to collaborate with Australia's world-class universities and we are now seeing students aspire for mobility opportunities and further studies in Australia at a scale that hasn't existed in the past. There is still tremendous scope for deeper engagement between Indian and Australian universities' creating opportunities for both students and faculty to work together across the countries.'

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp said in a post-COVID world' international institutions would have to re-think and re-imagine their strategies for engaging with students from India.

'It is incumbent on Australian universities to think about the unique 'value add' we can provide to students who make the major life decision to travel halfway across the world to study here'' Professor Klomp said.

'I'd like to see Indian students be able to take greater advantage of internships' industry placements and work-integrated learning opportunities' so they can be truly 'job ready' when they graduate. Not only will those students be in a position to really take advantage of their post-study working rights in Australia' if they choose to stay longer term' they'll also be able to return to India with significant Australian industry experience under their belt. That's a huge competitive advantage for a graduate jobseeker.

'I'd also like to see Australian students who travel to India through offshore partnerships take advantage of similar initiatives. It's a way of building the talent pool in both Australia and India' with graduates who are culturally competent across the 'business languages' of our two nations.

'If we could see a change of culture' a change of policy' a change of attitude' we could be doing so much more together' and I'm really excited about that.'

The National Chair of the AIBC Education and Skills Chapter' Amritha Zachariah said Australia and India had a long collaborative history' and with the recent signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership' the Indian National Education Policy' development of a refreshed Australian National International Education Strategy and a review of the Australia India Economic Strategy' the time was right to re-frame how partnerships would look into the future.

Torrens University incoming Chancellor and AIBC National Chair' Jim Varghese AM said that the opportunity to bring together policy leaders and practitioners provided a unique insight into the possibilities of future partnerships.

CQUniversity and O.P. Jindal Global University signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the end of the roundtable that will see the two universities provide education pathways for students in both countries.

The MoU is just the first step in developing a deeper partnership where we can work together to provide innovative solutions for students to share and create new knowledge.

The collaboration will see both organisations provide different opportunities for its students to experience studying in both countries' giving them the chance to study at two world-recognised universities in the one degree.

The outcomes of this roundtable will inform how the Australia India Business Council can continue to support Brand Australia and facilitate key initiatives to our international students' helping move the needle on the acute skills gaps and shortages that exist in both countries.