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Australia smooths relationship with India

In a state trip to India last week, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard aimed to smooth relations with the important student source country. She used the trip to assure Indians of a welcome reception in Australia – and announced new funding for educational and research projects, which she says are at the heart of economic and social ties between the two countries.

Prime Ministers Gillard and SinghPrime Ministers Gillard and Singh

An MOU was reached to facilitate student mobility through mutual recognition of occupational qualifications

As the second largest provider of international students to Australia, and the first for migrant skilled workers, India provides significant contributions to Australia’s economy. Education’s place on the trip’s agenda reflects Australia’s ongoing efforts to regain trust in India after attacks on Indian students in 2010 harmed enrolments at Australian institutions.

“I do believe in terms of the obstacles that were there in our relationship, that they have been dealt with, that we have reassured people about the circumstances for Indian students in Australia…” said Gillard.

“We have reassured people about the circumstances for Indian students in Australia”

“The Prime Minister did raise with me in our bilateral discussion the incidents involving Indian students, but from the perspective of thanking me for the work that Australia has done to better assure the welfare of Indian students.”

An MOU was reached to facilitate student mobility through mutual recognition of occupational qualifications. “It puts people in a better position if they are going to the other nation, to be able to access the labour market,” said Gillard.

Gillard announced the government would provide AUS$1.5 million over three years in additional funding for the Australia-India Institute, a research centre based at the University of Melbourne dedicated to building Australia’s capacity to understand India.  Two new research fellowships will also be introduced through the Australia-India Education Council, a bi-national body set up by both governments to increase academic collaboration with both sides.

To promote academic and student exchanges, five universities in Australia will establish the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Chairs of Indian Studies, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh confirmed.

Both prime ministers welcomed the announcement that Air India would commence direct flights to Australia

Both prime ministers welcomed the announcement that Air India would commence direct flights to Australia by the first quarter of 2013, a move that will aid connectivity and support growth in the education and tourism sectors.

Thirty two Australian universities take part in 380 active collaborations with 250 Indian institutions involving academic cooperation, joint research to encouraging student and staff mobility and recognising course credits between institutions.

New modelling from the International Education Association of Australia suggests a long road to recovery for Australia’s declining international education sector. By 2020, enrolments are predicted to equal those from the peak in 2009 with HE programmes taking a larger stake of the market and other sectors feeding into this programming.

 

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