India and Australia pledge mutual degree recognition

‘Task force’ to facilitate two-way flow of students and graduates

March 22, 2022
Graduates celebrate the award of their university or college degrees
Source: iStock

Australia and India have promised to “harmonise” the recognition of each other’s degrees, in a move that could shore up enrolments from Australia’s second top source market for international students while helping India plug a shortage of skilled workers predicted to reach 29 million by the end of the decade.

Acting Australian education minister Stuart Robert said a yet-to-be-established task force would “deliver a mechanism” for expanding recognition of higher education qualifications between the two countries by the end of the year, with the new approach to be implemented in 2023.

He said the task force would consult stakeholders and make recommendations “based on best principles and practices”. The task force would generate new opportunities for graduates of both countries to use their qualifications, “expanding cooperation in education and optimising mobility outcomes”.

While details of the initiative are scant, trade minister Dan Tehan said it was an “early harvest” of negotiations towards a free trade agreement. “Wouldn’t it be fantastic if Indian students could come to Australia and study two years of their degree and then go back and finish…or a young student here at Melbourne University could go to India to finish their degree? That would be a great sign of the growing closeness of the relationship.”

India’s efforts to boost the international standing of its education system and train its massive, youthful population are well recognised in Australia. A 2018 report by University of Queensland chancellor Peter Varghese, a former high commissioner to India, highlighted education as an enormously promising area of enhanced activity between the two countries.

Universities Australia said the task force was “an important and positive step forward” in bolstering links with a country that had sent more than 90,000 higher education students Down Under the year before the pandemic. Chief executive Catriona Jackson said she expected the initiative to cover microcredentials, which were “critical to upskill and reskill”.

“Ensuring recognition of Australian degrees or microcredentials is important for Indian students going home, and Australian students working in India.”

Pawan Luthra, chief executive of Sydney’s Indian Link newspaper, said he expected more young Australians to complete their degrees in the subcontinent. Graduating engineers might decide to undertake final-year studies at an Indian Institute of Technology, “one of the premier educational institutions in the world”.

“These youngsters are going to go around the world practising their profession,” Mr Luthra told the ABC. “If they can fine-tune their skills in another country, that’ll be fantastic.”

The task force was among a plethora of initiatives announced following a virtual summit between Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

They included an extra A$7.8 million (£4.4 million) towards the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, which helps link universities, research institutions and “end users” of scientific innovation in both countries.

“We want our researchers and innovators to be able to fast-track their work into real-world outcomes,” said science and technology minister Melissa Price. “Working with India presents a fantastic opportunity to do just that.”

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles