Australia’s elite Group of Eight universities have embarked on a campaign to challenge Australia’s reputation in India as “a not particularly high quality destination for education”.
Go8 universities signed an agreement on 24 August with six elite Indian private schools that they hope will attract the institutions’ top students to study in Australia.
The agreement was signed during a trip to India by an Australian delegation including vice-chancellors, education minister Christopher Pyne and his new education ambassador, former cricketer Adam Gilchrist.
The agreement will see Go8 universities offer the schools’ students careers advice and educational opportunities such as debating competitions and summer schools. They will also offer training to the schools’ teachers.
Vicki Thomson, chief executive of the Go8, said that Indian students had typically been enticed to Australia not so much by its educational quality as by the prospect of gaining permanent residence, and often opted for vocational qualifications at lower ranking universities.
Ian Young, vice-chancellor of the Australian National University and a member of the Australian delegation, told Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service that he hoped the initiative would help challenge Australia’s image as a “not particularly high quality destination for education”.
“The very best Indian students tend to want to go to the United States and the United Kingdom,” he added.
Mr Pyne signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with India’s minister of human resource development, Smriti Zubin Irani, that, among other things, would facilitate credit transfers and mutual recognition of qualifications.
The initiatives were welcomed by Universities Australia. Belinda Robinson, the group’s chief executive, said: “It is clear that both countries see education and research as a core component of the strategic partnership and are committed to making progress on a number of key initiatives.”
She particularly welcomed the Indian government’s recognition of Australian pathways and foundation courses, giving Indian students on those courses “access to the Indian public service and further study at an Indian institution”.