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Media release: Australia-India research collaboration set to reap rewards from historic trade deal with India

April 4, 2022

The interim Australia-India Economic Commercial and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA) marks the start of a new phase with one of Australia’s most significant economic partners, the world’s largest democracy and fastest growing major economy.

The Group of Eight (Go8), which comprises Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, has a long history of collaboration and cooperation with India through its research, PhD students and industry partnerships. Over the last decade, the Go8 has contributed to negotiations via trade missions and roundtable discussions to explore mutually beneficial collaborations in the higher education sector, such as increasing PhD mobility.

Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson said the interim agreement unlocked a market of around 1.4 billion consumers in India, providing huge opportunities to further grow and diversify Australia’s international education export market.

“At the core of any bilateral trade agreement is the strength of our people-to-people relationships and these are underscored by decades of research and education partnerships, which often flow on to other sectors of the economy, such as tourism.”

Measures supporting growth in the Higher Education sector include:

  • The recognition of professional qualifications, licensing, and registration procedures between professional services bodies in both countries.
  • Provisions to extend to the mobility for the R&D workforce which will facilitate business opportunities and be mutually beneficial.
  • Extending the length of stay in Australia for STEM and ICT graduates with first class honours from two to three years, which will increase Australia’s appeal as a destination of choice.
  • “Most Favoured Nation” status will see Australian service providers guaranteed best treatment to future Indian free trade agreement partnerships, including R&D and the higher education sector.

“The Go8 has a long history of partnership with India in study, research collaboration and student exchange programs. More than 10,000 students from India study at one of our universities – 80 percent of whom are studying at post graduate level. Our two countries share many common challenges that provide opportunities for collaborative research. Capitalising on these opportunities will necessitate India substantially increasing its PhD-trained workforce, both for academia and industry. Go8 universities are ideally placed to work with our partners to deliver this outcome.”

Many Go8 universities have long standing partnerships with institutions in India including:

  • Monash University manages a research academy in partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in Mumbai with approximately 200 joint PhD programme students.
  • The University of Queensland manages an Academy of Research in India in partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi with approximately 50 joint PhD students.
  • The University of Melbourne has entered a collaboration with the IIT Kanpur/IIT Madras/ IIT Kharagpur and the IISc to deliver a Joint Doctoral Degree Program.

Ms Thomson said the Go8 was committed to working closely with the Australian Government to ensure the completion of a comprehensive free trade agreement between Australia and India by the end of 2022.

Contact: Vicki Thomson, Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 438 047 155