Stakeholders have said the Mechanism for the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications is “great news” for Australian transnational education providers wishing to deliver programs in India.
The deal – agreed on March 3 – aims to give students “greater certainty” on the recognition of qualifications, with the partners indicating it is “India’s most comprehensive education agreement of its type with another country”.
The announcement comes as Deakin University revealed plans to open a full International Branch Campus at GIFT City in India, joining University of Wollongong Australia which announced a teaching location in 2022.
In July 2022, the UK and India agreed an MoU to recognise each other’s higher education qualifications.
“This agreement locks in the rules for mutual recognition to access education in both our countries, including the qualifications we provide online and offshore,” Australian minister for Education Jason Clare said. Clare led a delegation of university leaders and education stakeholders to India. Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese will also visit the country from March 8-11.
“Australia’s universities are well placed to contribute to India achieving its domestic education goals”
The agreement will deliver “immediate benefits” to both students and higher education institutions in Australia and India and “reflects the strong and mutually beneficial relationship between India
and Australia”, Clare added.
“Australia’s universities are well placed to contribute to India achieving its domestic education goals and to supporting the skills and employment needs of key Indian industries,” he said.
Australian providers have long looked to India for TNE opportunities and have suggested students from the country should be permitted to stay to work in Australia for longer periods of time in order to fill labour shortages.
India’s education minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, visited Australia in August 2022.
Clare emphasised that with India’s plan to have half of its young people in vocational and higher education by 2035, “one in four graduates in the world [could] come from the Indian higher education system” in 12 years’ time.
Speaking at Delhi University, the visiting minister said the agreement is a two-step process, first the signing of the mechanism, and later the need to work with professions on mutual recognition agreements.
Doing so will allow Australian and Indian graduates to be able to practice professionally in either country, he said, adding the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement with India – signed in late 2022 – will be important going forward.
Eleven new memoranda of understanding were signed between Indian and Australian institutions, as the delegation visited.
India’s International Financial Services Centres Authority, which announced the Deakin campus, said the centre will offer courses in Financial Management, FinTech, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Additionally, Deakin signed an agreement with Indian Premier League team Rajasthan Royals which will create a sports-related scholarship for Indian students.
Pradhan and his Australian counterpart also reaffirmed their commitment to establish an Australia India Working Group on Transnational Partnerships to “further opportunities for greater institutional collaboration”.
The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia said the recognition agreement is “significant” for Australian independent skills training and higher education providers looking to support students wishing to study in Australia.
“It’s also great news for those providers wishing to deliver programs in India,” said ITECA chief executive, Troy Williams, who also accompanied the Australian delegation.
With a total 70,000 Indian students currently studying in Australia, the country is the largest overseas market for Australia’s independent tertiary education providers, ITECA noted.
“Recognition of Australian qualifications by the Indian government will support transnational education, allowing students with Indian qualifications to pursue further education in Australia and vice versa. Significantly, these students will not have to undergo a complex and time-consuming process of getting their qualifications recognised by training providers or employers,” Williams said.
“[It] will enhance the employment standing of Indian students who have completed their education in Australia, thereby increasing their employability and future career prospects,” he added.
Universities Australia, which also joined a delegation to India last September, saw its chair John Dewar meet secretary general of the Association of Indian Universities, Pankaj Mittal, last week.
The partners renewed a formal partnership, which Dewar said will “open the door to enhanced understanding between Australian and Indian universities, while deepening bilateral cooperation in education and research”.
“Australian and Indian universities have more than 450 formal partnerships”
“Australian and Indian universities have more than 450 formal partnerships between them, demonstrating the strong connections between our universities,” he said.
Among the 11 agreements signed last week feature a “wide range of fields including bio-innovation and law”, Canberra highlighted.
“It’s clear these relationships are only going to grow. India is aiming to educate 500 million students by 2035, and Australia’s universities are here to help,” Dewar added.
The UA/ AIU MoU will lead to increased student and faculty exchange, dual and joint degrees, twinning programs and research collaborations, Mittal continued.
“In keeping with the vision of the National Education Policy, we’ve also established the Indian Network of International Higher Education and collaboration portal to facilitate student mobility through mutual recognition of qualifications,” he said.