Dharmendra Pradhan, the Union Minister for Education and Skill Development, held productive talks with his Australian counterpart, HE Jason Clare, MP, Education Minister, in a significant development on Monday.
Minister Clare, who is on his second visit to India this year, highlighted the robust nature of the India-Australia knowledge partnership. During the meeting, both ministers meticulously assessed the collaborative efforts in the fields of education and skilling. They reiterated their dedication to bolstering knowledge and skilling partnerships, aiming to enhance mobility, employability, and prosperity in both nations, as per an official statement.
Mr. Pradhan conveyed his appreciation for the consistent advancements achieved in multiple domains, including the mutual recognition of qualifications, the formation of joint working groups, collaborative skill endeavours, joint degree initiatives among higher education institutions, student exchange programs, internationalisation of India’s education sector, as well as efforts to resolve visa-related concerns for Indian students and research scholars, among other crucial matters, as stated in the release.
Pradhan played a key role as the co-chair in the inaugural meeting of the Australia India Education and Skill Council (AIESC) in Gandhinagar, alongside Australian Ministers HE Jason Clare, MP, Education Minister, and HE Brendan O’Connor, Skills and Training Minister.
The AIESC, previously named the Australian India Education Council (AIEC), was established in 2011 as a bilateral body aimed at shaping the strategic direction of education, training, and research collaborations between the two countries.
The council has now shifted its focus towards fostering internationalisation, facilitating two-way mobility, and encouraging collaboration within the education and skill sectors. Notably, this marks the first instance where education and skilling initiatives have been amalgamated under the same institutional framework, according to the release.
During the discussion, Pradhan underscored the significance of the year 2023 for Australia and India, especially in the realms of education and skill development. The inaugural Australia-India Education and Skills Council meeting is poised to catalyse the formulation of fresh strategies, fortify existing knowledge links, advance shared priorities, foster interpersonal connections, and establish the knowledge sector as a cornerstone of India-Australia relations, the statement highlighted.
He reiterated that education and skills remain pivotal focal points in the bilateral interactions, echoing the commitment of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister HE Anthony Albanese to bolstering knowledge connections. The successful meeting has laid the groundwork for heightened cooperation, collaboration, and mobility in key sectors, as outlined in the official release.
Pradhan revealed the exchange of five Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between Australian and Indian higher education institutions, enabling collaborative research initiatives in critical fields including agriculture, water management, critical minerals, healthcare, artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and climate change.
These agreements are set to create numerous opportunities for educational, research, and innovation endeavours, alongside facilitating student and faculty exchanges, as well as twinning programs and dual degrees, according to the official release.
He emphasised that the Australia India Education and Skills Council (AIESC), with its forward-looking road map for the next decade, will play a central role in shaping a promising future for both Australia and India.
HE Jason Clare, MP, underscored the significance of meaningful partnerships in education and skilling, shaping the destinies of both nations. He highlighted the existence of 450 ongoing research partnerships between the two countries and stressed that collaborations at governmental, institutional, and industry levels will further fortify their bond, benefiting both nations, as outlined in the statement.
The Ministers welcomed the upcoming inauguration of the University of Wollongong and Deakin University campuses at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) and the ongoing collaborative research efforts between esteemed Indian institutes such as the IITs and leading Australian universities.
Both Ministers reaffirmed their collective commitment to implementing qualification recognition arrangements under the Mechanism for the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications and acknowledged the efforts undertaken by the Australia-India Qualifications Recognition Steering Committee, the release noted.