The strong education focus of Prime Minister Abbott’s visit to India on 4-5 September 2014 provided new momentum to the Australia-India education relationship.
The visit commenced with the Prime Minister’s launch of the New Colombo Plan (NCP) in India, at the University of Mumbai’s historic Convocation Hall. Over seven hundred students, academics and senior higher education leaders from Australia and India gathered to hear the announcement.
From 2015, the NCP will support Australian undergraduate students to participate in semester-based or short-term study in India, including internships. This will lift knowledge of India in Australia and strengthen our people-to-people and institutional relationships. Further information about the New Colombo Plan can be found here.
A number of new higher education partnerships were formalised at the event between Indian and Australian universities. They will increase student mobility, research partnerships, faculty exchange and jointly taught degrees.
Prime Minister Abbott also inaugurated the Australia India Student Mobility workshop, an initiative of the Australia India Education Council, held at the University of Mumbai on the same day.
The workshop was attended by representatives from 52 Indian and 24 Australian higher education institutions. It provided a forum for Australian and Indian higher education institutions, student services providers, NGOs and industry to identify best practice for student mobility programs in India, including student support, internships, and practicums.
The Australia India Institute (AII), Australia’s leading centre for the study of India, received further funding of $3 million by the Australian Government. The funding will support the Institute in building Australia's capacity to understand India and facilitating dialogue, research and partnerships between India and Australia. Prime Minister Abbott also announced the opening of AII’s first node in India in early 2015.
Australia and India’s vocational education and training relationship was further strengthened through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Australia’s Department of Industry and India’s National Skill Development Corporation. The MoU encompasses collaboration on occupational standards in priority sectors. It will strengthen engagement between industry and government to promote greater skills mobility within the region, and inform the development of skills systems in both countries.
Skills development agreements for the telecommunications sector were also formalised during the visit. The Indian Telecommunications Sector Skill Council signed an agreement each with Innovation and Business Skills Australia and E-Oz Energy Australia. These agreements will promote cooperation in creation of new national occupational standards, training course design, recognition of prior learning arrangements and certification.
Scientific and technological collaboration
Scientific collaboration received a significant boost with the announcement of further funding of $20 million by the Australian Government to the Australia India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF), over the next four years. Since its inception, the AISRF has supported over 220 collaborative projects of critical importance to both countries. The renewed funding will continue to support practical, focussed cooperation in research and innovation. The Prime Minister’s media release announcing the extension of the Fund can be found here.