Universities unite to lure elite Indian students

25 Aug 2015

Financial Review, 24 August 2015

By Tim Dodd

Australia's top universities have teamed up with elite Indian private schools in "a concerted push" to attract students whose first preference would be Oxbridge or the US Ivy League. Australia's eight leading research universities, witnessed by federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne, will on Monday sign an agreement with six elite schools in Delhi to offer educational opportunities for students in the schools and training for their teachers, as a first step to luring them to Australia for their degree.

"We want to engage with those quality students who have until now been seeking to study in the UK and US," said Vicki Thomson, CEO of the Group of Eight, which will sign the agreement on behalf of the eight Australian research universities.

The move will help strengthen the profile of Australian universities in India which, even though its middle and upper classes speak English, lags China as a source of International students for Australia.

Until now the Indian international student market has been primarily driven by the prospect of gaining permanent residence in Australia, meaning that large numbers of Indian students opt for study for vocational qualifications or degrees at cheaper and less prestigious universities.

Ms Thomson said that currently, Australia was not on Indian students' radar as a quality education destination.

Last year the Group of Eight universities only had 2401 students from India, compared to a total of 26,223 Indian students studying at higher education level in Australia. But even this small number was a 33 per cent increase on 2013 for the Group of Eight.

Monday's agreement means that the Australian universities will give these elite Indian school students career advice, and development opportunities such as debating competitions. There will also be summer schools in Australia for the best Indian school students to learn about high-level research.

The universities will also offer in-service training for teachers in the schools and work with them on specific project in sports, the humanities and STE(science, technology,engineering and maths) education.

Ms Thomson said the deal with the elite schools was about more than student recruitment.

"We know we are some of the best research universities in the world, and this is being recognised by India and its elite schools. We will be working with Indian schools and students to instill an early passion for research," Ms Thomson said.

The Group of Eight is responding to a call from Indian government officials for university collaboration with India to start at school level, and to include introducing children to research. Ms Thomson said it was a priority of both the government and the six schools, to have students inspired to enter research careers.

The six schools in Delhi which will collaborate with the Australian universities are Springdales School, Bluebells International School, Rishkul Vidyapeeth School, Ahlcon International School, The Shri Ram School and Summerfields School.

The Group of Eight comprises the University of Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland, Adelaide and Western Australia as well as ANU, UNSW Australia, and Monash.

Source: Financial Review