India's Education Minister Visits UNSW - Education Matters Magazine
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India’s Education Minister Visits UNSW

 A delegation of Indian education officials visiting the University of New South Wales has called for stronger research partnerships between Australian and Indian higher educational institutions.

“The progress we would like to make on this front is a greater exchange of faculty and students,” said India’s Minister for Human Resources Development Dr Pallam Raju during his meeting with UNSW executive today.

Dr Raju, whose portfolio covers all aspects of India’s schools and higher education policy, led the high-level delegation, which included senior government officials and 22 Vice-Chancellors.

He said the Indian government would be announcing in the next two months a new international program aimed at encouraging faculty exchanges to Australia, but he did not specify how much money had been earmarked for the program. 

There were related discussions about establishing jointly supervised PhD programs, where students could split their time between Australia and India and receive qualifications from both countries.

Dr Raju also said he was committed to continuing the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) beyond 2016, when the decade-long initiative finishes. The $64 million fund has supported more than 100 joint projects and workshops.

Australia’s Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr today announced $10 million in funding from the AISRF to support four new collaborative projects

“Since this is doing so well, we will definitely increase the funding,” said Dr Raju. “[Senator Carr] is committed to research and I think he sees the strength of this partnership and I’m certain that Australia will also increase the funding.”

According to UNSW’s Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Mark Hoffman, UNSW has had 13 projects funded by the AISRF over the last five years worth $3.3 million, “which is significantly more than any other University”.

“The beauty of the scheme is that it has catalysed very significant industry linkages. Last year UNSW got India corporates funding research to the tune of $1.8 million, which was actually more than any other country,” said Professor Hoffman.

Dr Raju also spoke about the need to improve educational capacity and quality within India in order to provide training to the country’s growing workforce. “We are talking about 500 million young people to be skilled by 2022,” he says.

UNSW’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer acknowledged the challenge and said: “As one of Australia’s leading research universities, UNSW is optimistic about future opportunities to engage with India as it works toward this goal.”

UNSW was the only university in Sydney on the Indian delegation’s itinerary. UNSW maintains a positive profile in India, symbolised by the University’s Gandhi bust, donated by the Indian government in 2010, and its annual Gandhi oration.

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