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HT Interview: Ahead of Study Australia Fair 2023, senior Austrade official answers queries of students

Aug 26, 2023 08:20 PM IST

Austrade official Monica Kennedy gives details about Study Australia Fair 2023 and answers queries of students who want to study in Australian university.

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) is organising Study Australia fair 2023 next month. The fair, which starts on September 4 in Chandigarh, will travel through five other Indian cities, and to the capitals of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Monica Kennedy, Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Austrade.
Monica Kennedy, Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Austrade.

In an email interview with Hindustan Times digital, Monica Kennedy, Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Austrade shares details around the upcoming fair and gives answers to various other important questions which are on mind of students who want to go to Australia for higher studies.

The Study Australia Fair 2023 is scheduled for September. Can you please share some details regarding the fair?

Monica Kennedy: The Study Australia Showcase 2023, organised by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), stands as our flagship event. This year's edition will travel across eight cities in South Asia – including six cities in India and one each in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (schedule provided at the end). This strategy highlights our dedication to fostering global knowledge connections.

This unique Showcase, orchestrated by the Australian Government, aims to gather esteemed Australian Universities and representatives from government agencies under one roof. It is an opportunity for students, parents, and educational institutions' representatives to meet world-class Australian universities, gain insights from state and territory government representatives, explore education prospects in Australia, understand options, intakes, fees, scholarships, and embrace a deeper understanding of the country. Additionally, students can learn from government officials of the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Education about their journey to study in Australia.

Open to all, this premier event offers students the chance to visit and shape their future in Australia.

Schedule: September 4, 2023 - Chandigarh, September 5 - New Delhi, September 7 - Ahmedabad, September 9 - Hyderabad, - September 11 - Bengaluru, September 12 - Chennai, September 14 – Colombo, September 16, 2023 – Dhaka.

Have there been notable increases in students enrolling in Australian universities in recent yeas? If so, what factors do you think contribute to this trend?

Monica Kennedy: An evident upward trajectory is observed in Indian students seeking education in Australia. The number of Indian students in Australia rose from 75,109 in 2022 to 95,791 in 2023 (January-April).

The Department of Home Affairs granted nearly 382,000 student visas between July 1, 2022, and February 28, 2023 – a remarkable 41.3% increase compared to the same period in 2019-20. During this time, Indian nationals received more than 71,100 student visas, marking the highest number of visas granted across all nationalities.

This positive trend can be attributed to the rising awareness among Indian students about the high-quality Australian education.

Australia is a multi-cultural country with welcoming and safe environment. This was also reflected in the Study Australia International Student Sentiment Survey, 2022 - with 78% of current students rating Australia as 7 or higher out of 10, an increase of 21% since the previous year.

Improved perceptions of safety, security, and educational quality have played a pivotal role. Over 85% of students believe that choosing Australia as their study destination was a sound decision.

The shift towards undergraduate studies abroad has also underscored this surge. 'In the past, Indian students used to travel abroad primarily for master's degrees after completing their first degree in India. Over the last 15 years, we've seen Indian students increasingly focused on undergraduate studies to foster a seamless learning and work experience. A significant number of Indian students are now gravitating towards countries with world-class universities, and Australia ranks among the best in this category. Australian universities have also been proactive in supporting undergraduate students to access world-class education, which enhances their global employability post-graduation.'

Can you highlight some sought after courses among Indian students heading to Australia? If possible, could you mention universities that attract a substantial number of Indian students?

Monica Kennedy: A discernible trend among Indian students is their preference for courses in management, IT, engineering, hospitality, and health when studying in Australia. The allure of high-quality education, an emphasis on world-class research, and opportunities for a global career makes almost every Australian university equally appealing to international students.

Could you shed light on the annual expenses an average Indian student should budget for when studying at a reputable Australian university? Additionally could you discuss available scholarships for Indian students?

Monica Kennedy: The annual expenses for an Indian student aspiring to study at a prestigious Australian university range from 12 lakhs to 30 lakhs, contingent upon the educational level, chosen university, and city of study.

Scholarships encompass a diverse array, available through governmental bodies and universities alike.

The Study Australia official website, the government’s official resource, will help aspiring students with all the above details to make an informed choice - like the Cost of Living calculator, scholarship search tool, and course search tool, empowering students to navigate these considerations effectively.

Is it possible for Indian students to contribute to their expenses through part-time jobs while studying in Australia? If so could you elaborate on the specifics, including potential weekly earnings?

Monica Kennedy: Australia's focus on holistic growth and wellbeing for international students is evident through various approaches. Commencing July 1, 2023, student visa holders are accorded the privilege of working up to 48 hours fortnightly while pursuing their studies. These work allowances are unrestricted when courses are not in session, fostering a balanced focus on education and practical experience.

Essential, however, is the students' familiarity with their specific visa conditions, subject to variation based on course level and initial visa application. Understanding visa conditions, including work rights, is crucial. These rights might vary depending on the course level and the visa held during the student visa application process.

The Department of Home Affairs website provides comprehensive details for students.

Beyond obtaining foreign degree and better employment opportunities , could you outline additional benefits for students opting to study in Australia?

Monica Kennedy: Beyond acquiring a foreign degree and enriching job prospects, studying in Australia fosters a profound preparedness for the global workforce.

The comprehensive focus on personal and professional development bestowed by Australian qualifications renders graduates immensely appealing to employers globally.

Australia's commitment to the well-being, inclusivity, and safety of international students, coupled with an outstanding education system, furnishes an enriching experience.

Australia provides robust protection for international students through the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act) and related legislation, safeguarding and enhancing Australia's reputation for top-quality education. This includes tuition protection and upholding the integrity of the student visa program.

Australia's position as one of the world's most economically and politically stable democracies creates an environment that is safe, welcoming, inclusive, and supportive for international students. It's a place known to inspire and encourage learning.

Australian universities' top-tier global rankings (QS ranking 2024) underscore their commitment to industry-academia connections, top-notch faculty, high employability rates, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and cutting-edge digital platforms for online and hybrid learning, all supported by a curriculum endorsed by industries.

Could you discuss the direction Australian higher education is taking ? Do you believe that this is an opportune time for higher education pursuits in Australia?

Monica Kennedy: The current landscape presents an unparalleled opportunity for the Australian education sector and for strengthening India-Australia partnerships in this domain.

The increasing trust exhibited by Indian students towards Australian educational institutions reflects a valid trend. While maintaining consistently high academic standards, Australian education providers distinguish themselves through their dedicated focus on holistic student development, both professionally and personally. This approach equips students to excel in their careers.

Australia's continuous recognition in global rankings for research excellence, learner satisfaction, liveability, and employment outcomes stand as a testament to its educational prowess. The recent QS World University Rankings 2024 reaffirm this recognition:

*Three Australian universities ranked in the global top 20: The University of Melbourne (14), University of New South Wales (19), The University of Sydney (19). The University of Melbourne surpassed institutions like Yale, Peking, and Princeton to secure an all-time high ranking at #14 globally.

*Nine Australian universities rank within the top 100, with a 95% global ranking coverage.

Australia has also introduced some of the world's best post-study work rights for students. An extension announced by the Australian Government as of July 1, 2023, allows eligible international higher education graduates to extend their stay and work period:

- Four years for bachelor's degree graduates (up from two years).

- Five years for master's degree graduates (up from three years).

- Six years for doctoral graduates (up from four years).

These extensions supplement existing additional one to two years of work rights for students studying, living, and working in regional areas.

Could you elaborate on the growing collaboration between India and Australia in the realm of education?

Monica Kennedy: The relationship between Australia and India has never been stronger, presenting a range of exciting opportunities for both nations. One significant development is the recent enactment of the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), which provides a strong foundation for further deepening our economic ties and offering new opportunities for businesses in both countries.

This landmark agreement opens avenues for fruitful collaborations between educational institutions in India and Australia. It also extends special privileges to Indian students aspiring to study in Australia, focusing on skill development and enhanced employability.

The ECTA pact between the two countries promises to empower Indian students to harness the benefits of a world-renowned education system while fostering innovative and advanced models of engagement between Indian and Australian Universities. Furthermore, the agreement accentuates the importance of intensifying research efforts, fostering cross-innovation, and facilitating deeper collaboration between universities in both nations.

Another crucial component of the strong and enduring relationship between India and Australia are the Transnational education pathways - bringing together the best of both countries' academic capabilities and opportunities. These pathways connect students in India with the world-class education and industry-focused curriculum offered by Australian institutions, preparing them for successful international careers.

Recent developments have set the stage for promising future collaborations in transnational education. During his recent visit, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that Deakin University would become the first foreign university to establish a branch campus in India.

This historic move marks a significant milestone in the Australia-India relationship and is a testament to the close collaboration and support of the Austrade team.

Deakin University's new branch campus in Gujarat International Finance Tech-city (GIFT) will initially offer postgraduate courses in cyber security and business analytics, with plans to expand the campus and the number of programs offered over time. By partnering with major Indian companies such as TCS, Infosys, HDFC, HCL, and Xebia, Deakin aims to deliver curriculum that is relevant to the needs of the industry.

Another Australian University - University of Wollongong is also approved and planning for establishment in GIFT City. University of Wollongong plans to commence at GIFT City later this year with a Graduate Certificate in Computing and a Master of Computing in the Finance domain. The University also plans to add a Master of Applied Finance and Master of Financial Technology (FinTech) in 2024). There also plans for the university to establish a Global Capital Markets Research Centre in its GIFT city location focussed on training PhD students and delivery of research with a focus on Indian capital markets.

Another key development this year was a major announcement by University of Melbourne during Prime Minister Albanese’s visit to India. University of Melbourne announced a major expansion of its dual Bachelor of Science degree program with the University of Madras, GITAM and Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU).

Launching in March 2023, the Bachelor of Science Dual Degree is part of the new generation of dual degrees designed to build breadth, curiosity and solid career foundations for any role in future.

Indian students who enrol in the new dual degree will be able to complete their degree at home and abroad, spending the first two years studying in India, followed by two years on campus in Melbourne or elsewhere in the world.

Once they successfully complete their studies, Indian students will be awarded a Bachelor of Science from the University of Melbourne, and they have the option for their local institution to award the degree.

These new partnerships are a testament to the strength and potential of transnational education pathways between India and Australia. It offers exciting opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and research that will benefit students, academics, and industries in both countries. We are confident that this is just the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship between Australian Universities and India, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact of this collaboration on both nations.

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