UQ Chancellor calls for education to be key focus in India trade

19 July 2018

University of Queensland Chancellor Mr Peter Varghese has called for education to be a ‘flagship sector’ as Australia seeks to lift trade and investment ties with India.

Former Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade head Mr Varghese made the call in his An India Economic Strategy to 2035 report released by the Federal Government this week.

It contains 90 recommendations to transform Australia’s relationship with India and take the economic partnership to a new level.

“There is no market over the next twenty years which offers more growth opportunities for Australian business than India,” Mr Varghese said.

“Getting our India strategy right will both enhance the prosperity and security of Australians and help realise the aspirations of the 1.3 billion Indians who sense their time has come and a better life is within their grasp.”

Mr Varghese’s report says education should be the flagship sector "because of a combination of Australian expertise, the scale of India's education deficit and the way in which an education and training demand weaves its way through virtually every sector of the Indian economy".

“India has an ambitious target of upskilling 400 million Indians,” he said.

“Australia's education relationship with India needs to focus on a message of quality, on postgraduate and research collaboration, on science and innovation, on forging partnerships to deliver cost-effective vocational education in India, and on partnering with India in the digital delivery of education.”

In addition to education, Mr Varghese identified agribusiness, resources and tourism as ‘lead sectors’ and energy, health, financial services, infrastructure, sport, science and innovation as ‘promising sectors’.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj congratulated Mr Varghese on the report, which was commissioned by the Prime Minister last year, and said partnership with India was integral to the University’s global strategy.

“UQ’s valued relationship with India has been strengthened by decades of academic and industry partnerships and student mobility opportunities,” Professor Høj said.

“For example, in January this year, UQ established a strategic partnership with one of India’s premier institutes, The Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-Delhi), to explore how we can combine our complementary strengths and find solutions to the biggest challenges of our time.

“IIT-Delhi was this week named as one of three public Institutions of Eminence by the Government of India.

“UQ has been awarded more than $5.8 million from the Australian Government’s Australia-India Strategic Research Fund for work with Indian institutions in agriculture, food and water security, biotechnology, vaccine development, IT and optoelectronics,” Professor Høj said.

Professor Høj said 113 Indian students had successfully completed PhDs at UQ since 2012.

“With our strong people-to-people connections – about 500 Indian nationals studied at UQ in 2017, and about 80 of our academic staff are Indian-born – I anticipate that these collaborations will continue to grow to the benefit of both our nations.

“I offer Mr Varghese my sincere congratulations on his outstanding report. The insights and recommendations contained in his strategy will sharpen UQ’s – and Australia’s – approach to investment in and collaboration with the fast growing economy in the world.”

Media: UQ Communications, communications@uq.edu.au , 3365 1120