Australia’s higher education is turning its sights to India

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Australia's higher education is now turning its sights to the second biggest country in the world - India.

By Emma Richards 

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Australian higher education is looking beyond its borders to forge lasting and fruitful partnerships. Already solidifying its position with China, producing large volumes of research papers, the sector is now turning its sights to the second biggest country in the world – India.

On Wednesday, the University of Melbourne launched its five-year India strategy entitled, Engaging with India 2020-2024 – highlighting collaboration in health, water, law, cultural arts and postgraduate teaching and learning.

It aims to reaffirm and strengthen long-term commitments to Australia-India research partnerships, collaborative teaching, and learning models. The primary focus of these collaborations is global challenges that affect, and can bring mutual benefit for, both Australian and Indian societies.


The strategy will work across five key pillars of study. These key initiatives on which the university is aiming to work with its Indian partners are:

  • Health: Co-develop an allied health program with Indian partner institutions and expand opportunities in digital health research for chronic disease management.
  • Water: Develop collaborations in integrated water management, specifically with university researchers and the Indian Ministry of Power.
  • Law: Establish the Indian Equality Law Programme and explore pathways to provide educational mobility opportunities.
  • Arts: Establish a portfolio of teaching and learning opportunities about India and leverage the university’s expertise in visual and performing arts, music and literature.
  • Teaching and learning: Expand the breadth and depth of the Melbourne-India Postgraduate Academy and expand blended teaching and learning programmes.

“The university is committed to building on its strong foundation of partnerships in India,” Professor Maskell said in a statement.

“We will work to strengthen our long-standing ties and accelerate collaborations with our Indian partners to address shared social and scientific global challenges. Issues such as climate change, water management, health and food security are just some of the shared global challenges facing both countries.

“The new strategy will enable academics across varied fields of study to continue to work in partnership with our colleagues in India, curating significant research relationships, developing grants, co-authoring publications and executing significant research projects.”

Australia has long had ties with its Indian counterparts, but Australia-India research partnerships are far from the top of its main collaborators. That spot was only recently secured by China, beating out the United States and the United Kingdom for the first time.


A July report from the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology of Sydney (UTS) looked at the trends in Australia-China research collaboration, how it has developed, and what are the likely challenges for the future. The figures showed, based on current trends there would be more joint scientific projects between Australia and China than between Australia and any other country by the end of 2019.

The report determined that for Australia to reach its full research potential, it would need to look outside its borders for partners as the country simply doesn’t have enough resources internally.

With such a huge population and many universities, India is a logical next step. The University of Melbourne’s engagement with India will concentrate on Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka, as well as regional areas – Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

“Our engagement in India reflects the broader ideals of the University and its ability to make a difference in society,” said University of Melbourne Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) Professor Shitij Kapur.

“We contribute to the capacity and wellbeing of international communities and institutions through collaborative research and teaching.”