AIB-X 2020 building on existing partnership for a deeper engagement with India’s higher education system

Research, teaching and mobility emerge common areas of impact & interest. During AIB-X week, Deakin University launched its Certificate of Sports Marketing with the Rajasthan Royals IPL team and the University of Wollongong partnership with IIT Bombay on electrical power engineering systems

As part of the Australia-India Business Exchange 2020 (AIB-X) Ministerial Business Mission to India from 24-28 February, a 31 member Australian higher education delegation is in India exploring and discussing on building better partnerships  with Indian counterparts. The group had an interactive session in Delhi on 24th Feb and will also go to  Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai during its tour in India.

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), Australian Government, which is coordinating this strategic visit in priority sectors of education, tourism, energy and resources, and food and agribusiness under the leadership of  Senator The Hon Simon Birmingham, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, is looking for building stronger university-to-university engagements and to work with Indian corporate sector to support R&D collaboration and technology commercialisation. Austrade CEO Dr Stephanie Fahey said that the mission is focused on strengthening Australia’s education ties with India and building Australia’s reputation for high-quality education.

In a joint session with representatives from Indian universities and corporates in Delhi, visiting Australian educational leaders tried to develop a deeper understanding of higher education ecosystem in India and dwelt on possible areas of collaboration from research to mobility and joint recognition of degree programs.

It was felt that champions will be needed at every level of engagement to develop understanding between the two education cultures and this will pave way for greater and meaningful engagement between the two countries. Some speakers advocated bottom up approach and mapping of common needs to these collaborations. It was felt from both sides that industry needs to be involved for sufficient industry funded research, internships, changing technology landscape, better output and sustainability.  

Alumni engagement was another area of discussion.  

Prof. Sarit Kumar Das, Director, Indian Institute of Technology Ropar, Punjab, while delivering a talk suggested creation of a working group to work on futuristic and alternate model of education for taking this engagement to a new level. He was also dismissive of rankings as these are woven more around perceptions. “Indian education system is comparatively different, so there has to be an appreciation of these difference while building educational relationships between the two countries,” suggested an Indian delegate.

Key participants at the session included Professor Colin Stirling, President and Vice-Chancellor, Flinders University; Dr Jessica Gallagher, Pro-Vice- Chancellor (Global Engagement and Entrepreneurship), The University of Queensland;  Professor Souvik Bhattacharyya, Vice-Chancellor, BITS Pilani; and Nikhil Malhotra, Global Head of Innovation, Tech Mahindra.

 “With a young, aspirational population, the demands on India’s education system will continue to grow, driving demand for high-quality education for the current generation and their children. India’s education system is looking to the world for specific capabilities to help it adapt and prepare for the future, and Australia is perfectly placed to partner with India as both nations strive for sustainable higher education sectors,” Dr Fahey added.