Union Minister for Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan has co-chaired the 1st Australia India Education and Skill Council meeting (AIESC) and also held a bilateral meeting with HE Mr. Jason Clare, MP, Education Minister, Government of Australia, in Gandhinagar, Gujrat on November 6, 2023.
Shri Dharmendra Pradhan highlighted that these regular meetings underscore the strengthening and dynamic nature of the India-Australia knowledge partnership. He expressed the consistent advancements in mutual recognition of qualifications, the establishment of joint working groups, collaborative skill initiatives, joint degree programs between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), opportunities for studying in India, the globalization of India’s education sector, resolution of visa-related concerns for Indian students and research scholars, and various other collaborative efforts.
Both ministers conducted a thorough review of bilateral collaboration in education and skilling, reaching an agreement to enhance knowledge and skilling partnerships. The aim is to foster increased mobility, employability, and prosperity for the citizens of India and Asutralia.
The AIESC, formerly known as the Australian India Education Council (AIEC), was established in 2011 as a bilateral body to guide the strategic direction of education, training, and research partnerships between Australia and India. The forum’s scope was expanded in alignment with the national priorities of both countries, emphasizing the promotion of internationalization, two-way mobility, and collaboration in education and the skill ecosystem. Notably, this marks the first instance where education and skilling are brought under the same institutional forum.
In the meeting, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan emphasized the significance of 2023 as a landmark year for Australia and India, particularly in the areas of education and skill development. The first Australia-India Education and Skills Council meeting is poised to serve as a catalyst in crafting new roadmaps for building robust knowledge bridges. It aims to advance mutual priorities in education and skill development, foster people-to-people linkages, and establish the knowledge vertical as a cornerstone of India-Australia ties.
Shri Dharmendra Pradhan highlighted the significance of education and skills in bilateral engagements, aligning with the commitment of PM Shri Narendra Modi and Australian PM HE Anthony Albanese to strengthen knowledge bridges. The successful Australia-India Education and Skills Council meeting opens doors for ‘more cooperation, more collaboration, and more mobility’ in priority areas.
Shri Dharmendra Pradhan announced the exchange of 5 MoUs between Australian and Indian Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to facilitate research collaborations in agriculture, water management, critical minerals, healthcare, AI, renewable energy, and climate change. This will create opportunities for educational advancement, research, innovation, student and faculty exchanges, and more twining programs/dual degrees.
Below are the following MoUs exchanged:
- Innovative Research Universities Consortium Campus: The IRU consortium (Flinders University, James Cook University, La Trobe University, Murdoch University, Griffith University, University of Canberra, and Western Sydney University) aims to enhance the Australia-India education partnership. The MOU explores a consortium approach for in-country degree delivery in India.
- Deakin University and National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC): Deakin University and NSDC collaborate on the ‘Global Job Readiness Program’ (GJRP), an online initiative to upskill 15 million Indians over three years, focusing on high-demand skills for enhanced employability.
- Deakin University and IIT Gandhinagar: A strategic alliance for quality higher education and research, connecting Deakin’s GIFT City campus with IIT Gandhinagar. Focus areas include science, innovation, mobility, faculty exchange, and joint doctoral programs.
- Monash University and Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad: This collaboration centers on academic and research activities, emphasizing critical minerals and other shared interests. It facilitates the exchange of academic materials, scholars, and students.
- Monash University and International Centre of Excellence in Mining (ICEM): The MoU aims to boost research and innovation collaboration between Monash and ICEM, focusing on the mining and mineral development sector in India. Key areas include mitigating mining’s impact on climate change and enhancing capabilities in critical minerals and rare earth elements.
Shri Dharmendra Pradhan emphasized that the AIESC, with an outcome-oriented roadmap for the decade, will play a key role in envisioning a brighter future for both Australia and India. He expressed gratitude to the Australian Ministers and their team for elevating the platform, providing Indian students and skilled workers with enhanced opportunities for meaningful career and livelihood paths.
In his address, HE Mr. Jason Clare, MP, emphasized the transformative impact of meaningful partnerships in education and skilling on the future of both countries. He highlighted the 450 existing research partnerships between Australia and India, underlining the importance of collaboration at governmental, institutional, and industry levels for the mutual benefit of both nations.
Following the 1st Australia-India Education and Skills Council Meeting (AIECS), Shri Dharmendra Pradhan and HE Mr. Jason Clare, MP, conducted a joint Press Conference. Secretary, Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Shri K Sanjay Murthy, and Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Mr. Philip Green, OAM, were also present.
The Ministers welcomed the opening of University of Wollongong and Deakin University campuses at Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City). They also applauded ongoing institutional collaborations in research, particularly between top Indian Institutes like the IITs and leading Australian Universities.
Reaffirming their joint commitment, both Ministers pledged to implement qualification recognition arrangements under the Mechanism for the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications. They acknowledged the efforts of the Australia-India Qualifications Recognition Steering Committee. Shri Dharmendra Pradhan noted India’s work on Phase III of the Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) Program, with priority areas including joint projects in critical minerals, rare earths, and other mutually agreed fields. India has allocated 2.5 million USD for Joint Research Projects with Australia.