At an event held at Mumbai University and attended by the Chancellors and Vice Chancellors of several top Australian and Indian universities, Abbott said the two countries have “much to offer” each other.
“From next year onwards, there will be hundreds and thousands of Australian students studying in India”
“Presently there are thousands of Indian students studying in Australian universities, but there are very few Australian students here,” Abbott remarked. “This will change now.
“From next year onwards, there will be hundreds and thousands of Australian students studying in India.”
He added that it was time to “return the favour” after some 14,000 Indian students came to study in Australia through the first iteration of the Colombo plan in 1950.
India is now Australia’s second largest source of international students, with more than 30,000 students receiving visas in 2013-14.
During the same event, India’s National Skills Development Corporation and the Australian Department of Industry signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Technical Vocational Education and Training, and Abbott announced $3m in government funding for Melbourne University’s Australia India Institute, which he said has played an important role in deepening understanding of the bilateral relationship.
“The cultural, academic, business and diplomatic links that the New Colombo Plan will build between Australia and over 35 countries in our region will only serve to strengthen Australia’s competitiveness and future prosperity,” Belinda Robinson, Universities Australia Chief Executive, commented.
Robinson added that the emergence of 100 new university partnerships since 2012 mean that there has never been a better time for Australian students to study in India.
“This 57% increase in the number of Australian-Indian university partnerships is not only good news for prospective New Colombo Plan scholars, but for wider relations between our two countries,” she said.
India will be one of 35 countries to welcome Australian undergraduates and interns from 2015 through the ambitious NCP, joining recent additions including Japan and all 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).