Indian students will benefit hugely from pact with Australia, says High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell


The report on India’s economic strategy to 2035 published by the Australian government indicates that one in five students studying in Australian universities is from India. According to December 2021 statistics, Indians make up 19% of their students, making it the largest foreign student community in the country (Chinese students make up 17%).

The recently signed India-Australia FTA or the Australia-India Economic and Trade Cooperation Agreement (AI-ECTA) aims to create around 10 lakh job opportunities in Australia over the next five to seven years. Indian students will also have the opportunity to work in Australia for four years after studying in Australia.

Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell explains the deal and what it could mean for the Indian student community in Australia.

As your ‘India Economic Strategy Update to 2035’ says, almost one in five foreign students in Australia are from India. What steps are you taking to strengthen ties with India in the education and career sector?

The Australian Government is focused on a rich and holistic educational engagement with India, its ministries and institutions and benefits Indian students. India and Australia are deeply engaging on policy issues so that our education systems are more aligned. This alignment is happening through initiatives such as the Qualifications Recognition Task Force, which Prime Ministers Morrison and Modi announced on March 21, 2022. It includes senior officials from Australia and India. It will examine the recognition of educational qualifications delivered through diverse learning such as online and blended learning, joint degrees and offshore campuses, with the aim of maximizing mobility outcomes for students, graduates and institutions. Australian and Indian education.

Although not the objective of the task force, improved professional recognition and employment outcomes may be an indirect result of the work of the task force.

Australia and India also exchange policies on vocational education and training (VET) and skills, which result in job-ready graduates due to the higher visibility given to VET throughout of the student journey in the National Education Policy of India, released in 2020.

(India’s economic strategy is an ambitious plan to transform Australia’s economic partnership with India until 2035.)

We have heard that the India-Australia trade pact will greatly contribute to job creation which is estimated to be around 10 lakh in the next 5-7 years. Could you shed more light on this?

The trade agreement gives us the opportunity to take full advantage of the complementarity of our economies, particularly in areas such as critical minerals, professional services, education and tourism. Australian consumers will benefit from nearly 96% of Indian goods imports entering Australia duty-free, and Indian consumers and businesses will benefit from the immediate elimination of tariffs on 85% of Australian goods exports to India . AI-ECTA will create new opportunities for jobs and businesses in both countries as we work towards a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement.

In 2020, bilateral trade between India and Australia was valued at $24.3 billion. Australia’s goal is for India to be among our top three export markets by 2035 and for India to be the third largest destination in Asia for outbound Australian investment.

Australia has also provided new market access for culturally significant professions for a combined total of 1,800 a year of qualified professional traditional leaders and yoga instructors entering as contract service providers to the India.

Australia will also provide new access for young Indians to take part in a working holiday in Australia. Places in Australia’s Work and Holiday scheme will be set at 1,000 a year and Australia will have two years to implement the result.

According to India’s economic strategy report, an Australia-India skills portal is underway. Could you tell us more?
India’s Economic Strategy Update package includes two Australian-led initiatives: the Australia-India Future Skills Initiative for Education and the Australia-India Industry Innovation Network. of technology. The Australia-India Future Skills Initiative will establish a new digital platform, delivered in partnership with industry, to connect Australian vocational education and training (VET) providers, Indian businesses, government, students and employers. The initiative will support development and capacity building in India by improving the skills of the Indian workforce through world-class Australian VET programmes.

It will also help build business relationships and make Australia the training partner of choice, as well as develop India’s workforce and support Indian careers through employment pathways. This is critical as India has a growing youth population and high demand for skills, with one million people turning 18 every month. The Australia-India Innovation Network will help Australian technology companies access India’s rapidly growing innovation ecosystem and forge stronger ties with customers, partners and investors in India.

What is the status of the Maitri Scholars program in Australia? How will he help India?
The Maitri Scholars program was announced in February this year. The Australian government will provide over $11 million over four years to help Indian students study at top Australian universities. Additionally, the Maitri Fellowships will provide $3.5 million over four years to build connections among future leaders. They will help Indian and Australian mid-career professionals to collaborate on strategically important research initiatives.

The Maitri initiative is aligned with the Australian Researcher Cooperation Hub-India (ARCH-India), established last year, which supports researcher engagement between India and Australia. This is an initiative funded by the Australian government and supported by the Indian Ministry of Education that helps with content development. The main objective of ARCH-India is to strengthen and increase research collaboration between our countries and showcase our excellence in joint research. ARCH-India serves as an online platform for researchers to connect their expertise, build relationships, share information and explore opportunities for collaboration and mobility.

The pact provides for a 4-year post-study work visa on a reciprocal basis. Could you please explain how this will be implemented?
In order to promote the reciprocal exchange of knowledge, Australians who have successfully completed their studies and wish to complete their training will be able to acquire professional experience in India. At the same time, Indian alumni will also be able to temporarily live, study and work in Australia upon graduation.

The result of the post-study work commits Australia to maintaining the possibility for former Indian students to live, study and work temporarily in Australia: after obtaining a diploma or professional qualification (stays up to at 18 months); a bachelor’s degree (stays up to two years); a master’s degree (stays up to three years); and a doctorate (stays up to four years).

In addition, the length of stay for a first class honors graduate is increased from two to three years after studies in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) sectors, including information and communication technologies (ICT). This complements Australia’s focus on building STEM skills for the modern workforce.

The Australian government has also offered a number of concessions to international students and graduates to ensure they are not disadvantaged by the pandemic. One initiative is the Temporary Graduate Visa (TGV) program which allows international students to live, study and work in Australia after completing their studies for up to four years (or longer). if they live and work in regional areas). ) according to their level of qualification. The TGV continues to experience growth in the number of requests submitted despite the closure of borders due to COVID-19.

Another major perspective of the pact is the exchange of students and university partnerships between countries. Could you share your thoughts on this?
An important development announced by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Narendra Modi at the Leaders’ Summit was the creation of a Qualifications Recognition Task Force. The working group will examine how the recognition of Australian and Indian qualifications can be improved to increase participation in higher education in both countries with a focus on recognizing: online and blended learning (online and face-to-face), joint degrees, offshore campus, and other miscellaneous modes of delivery.

Recognition of qualifications underpins both trade in professional services and trade in education services by removing barriers to the mobility of students, teachers and other professionals. This will improve the mobility of Indian and Australian students, graduates and educational institutions and support the growth of trade in education services between our countries.

The working group includes officials from both countries and is expected to be in place by mid-year, reach an agreed mechanism to improve recognition of qualifications by the end of 2022, and implement the mechanism in 2023.

Throughout the pandemic, Australian and Indian universities have met, negotiated and announced research partnerships, faculty exchanges and twinning arrangements where, for example, a student will study their first year of undergraduate in India, then will complete his last two years at a university. in Australia.

There are hundreds of partnerships between Indian and Australian universities, and several Australian universities have recently visited India to renew relationships and forge new ties.

What would you like to say to Indian students and professionals considering moving to Australia?

For any Indian student or professional planning to travel to Australia, they can be assured of the support of our two governments and the welcome of the Australian community. They can take comfort in knowing that there are over 700,000 people from the diaspora who have settled in Australia, or 3% of our population, plus the 100,000 Indian students who usually choose to study in Australia.

Of course, education and work experience in Australia is recognized and highly valued around the world. And the standard of living, health, transport and education infrastructure are exceptional.

With the growing proximity of our two countries, Australia is the natural choice of destination for Indians wishing to study and work abroad.

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