A recent visit to India by a senior UWA delegation will hopefully counter fears about Indian students’ safety in Australia.
Recent attacks on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney significantly tarnished Australia’s education image in India.
Professor Hema Sharda, Director South Asia Relations, said Australian universities had successfully marketed themselves in India on various ‘pull factors’ such as high quality of education, internationally-recognised degree programs, a competitive cost advantage and a safe and secure destination within a friendly and multicultural society.
“But in recent times several of these pull factors have disappeared,” Professor Sharda said. “ Coverage of the attacks on Indian students created fear and panic.
And the strengthening of the Australian dollar have made US and UK education more attractive. The important thing during such periods is to remain equally engaged with India on all fronts: marketing, teaching and research collaboration.”
UWA has made a strong commitment to foster a long-term relationship with India.
The recent delegation was led by Professor Alan Robson and included Professors Doug McEachern, Robyn Owens and Hema Sharda. The team visited Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai and several agreements were signed with prestigious Indian partners such as Anna University, Osmania University, Indian Institute of Sciences Bangalore-IISc, and Mumbai University.
UWA previously established Memoranda of Understanding with IIT Delhi and IIT Madras.
“India has primarily teaching-only institutes and colleges,” Professor Sharda said.
“With rapid globalisation, these institutes are being pressured to adopt a research culture. There is significant government funding available in India for promising researchers. So new opportunities in the research sector have emerged with many of the old and prestigious universities.”
The Federal Government has approved $50 million for the Australia India Strategic Fund which provides opportunities for joint projects with India.
Professor Sharda said priority areas identified by the Australia-India Joint Science and Technology Committee included: agriculture, astronomy and astrophysics, environment sciences. micro-electronics devices and materials, nanotechnology, renewable energy, marine sciences and Earth systems science.
“I encourage research staff to look at the funding available to build research relationships with Indian partners,” she said. “There are now 50 scholarships available for Indian international students.”
Currently there are 241 Indian international students enrolled at UWA, with 29 enrolled in higher degrees by research, 175 in postgraduate coursework and 37 in undergraduate programs.
Pictured: Professor Laurie Faraone, Kelly Smith (Director International Centre), Professor Alan Robson, Professor Hema Sharda, Professor Robyn Owens and Professor Doug McEachern with the international manager of SRM College, Ms Anuradha.