Australian Education Minister Simon Birmingham unveiled a $5 million funding package for the Melbourne-based Australia India Institute (Aii) on Friday.
The announcement was made on the sidelines of the Australia India Education Council summit, where Mr Birmingham and Indian Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar reaffirmed a commitment to deepen ties in education, training and research.
Birmingham described the Aii as “pivotal in building closer cooperation between institutions both here and in India”. The Institute was founded in 2008 and is headquartered at the University of Melbourne, Victoria – a state with the largest Indian-born population in Australia.
With an estimated 20 million people turning 18 annually in India, demand for higher education in India often outstrips supply. Minister Birmingham reiterated the importance of Australian education providers establishing a foothold in the Indian market. “[T]he continued work of the Australia India Institute will help further enhance the footprint of Australian universities and vocational education providers in the booming Indian market”, Mr Birmingham said.
Some 11% of foreign students at Australian universities are from India, making it the country’s second largest contingent of overseas students.
While Indian regulations prevent Australian universities from setting up campuses in India, Director of the Australia India Institute Craig Jeffrey hopes this will change. “The regulatory landscape in India is fluid, and Australia is well-placed to develop new collaborations as rules change,” he said.
During his visit, Minister Javadekar will sign agreements that will enable academic exchanges between six Australian and Indian universities, offering increased student mobility between the two Indo-Pacific countries.