The Australian experience in India
It has been confirmed that the Australian education authorities are looking to create a 72 acre campus in Ahmedabad, India so that Indian students can experience the Australian way of life before their potentially decide to emigrate to the country. It will also allow the Australian authorities to take a hands-on approach to attracting overseas workers to the country via the overseas branches of the Australian education system.
While India is in the eyes of many the first of a number of major steppingstones overseas for the Australian education system, it makes sense to start with India because there are a significant number of Indian expats already living in Australia. While very often it is the UK expats who grab the headlines in relation to Australia, because of the very close relationship between the two countries, there is a very large contingent of Indian immigrants in the region as well.
Historically the Indian workforce has been very beneficial for the Australian economy as much as the Australian economy has been beneficial for Indian immigrants. There are first, second and third generation families now living in Australia with very close links to India so what better place to start than an area of the world which is already held in high esteem by the Indian population?
What subjects would be covered on the Indian/Australian campus?
While plans for the joint operation have been confirmed there had been no definitive decisions with regards to subject matter although it is believed that the government is looking at a branch of the Innovation Campus which would take in research and development in the field of technology. Specific elements of this particular subject include energy storage and advanced manufacturing of technological devices.
This would seem to be a very sensible move for the Australian government because technology has literally taken over the world and while the Australian population has not been slow to take up new technology, there are many who believe business has been relatively slow to react. If Australian businesses are able to nurture the best technological minds in India for the future then there is every chance that they will at some point visit the country to fulfil their potential.
Australian businesses looking East
While there are obvious attractions in setting up an Australian branch of the education system in India, it will be interesting to see whether this opens up new opportunities for Australian businesses looking at India and the surrounding region. It seems almost inevitable that there will at some point be a commercial tie-up with the proposed Indian/Australian university which should open up further opportunities for Australian commerce and Indian commerce.
In many ways the Australian economy and the Australian business arena could effectively “piggyback” the ongoing strength of the Indian economy and the significant progress made in areas such as technology. The idea of overseas campuses is not a new one although many people believe that this particular avenue has yet to be fully exploited by all parties involved.
Will this lead to more overseas Australian campuses?
One of the traits of the current and past Australian governments has been the ability to plan ahead and invest for the future. While this overseas campus in India is not their first venture overseas it is their first real adventure into the Indian market and could eventually lead to a significant number of similar operations both in India and other areas of the world. The ability to attract skilled employees for the future is something which the Australian authorities have been very good at doing in the past although the playing field is certainly changing year-on-year.
Rather than sitting back and waiting for skilled workers to apply to live in Australia it seems as though the authorities are taking a more proactive approach and looking to actively pursue those looking at particular areas of commerce. As we touched on above, technology is such a massive area of the worldwide economy and carries such a massive influence so what better area of the business arena to start with?
Are the authorities neglecting domestic workers and domestic students?
When you see the headlines with regards to the Australian education authorities looking overseas for skilled workers and extending the tentacles of the education system into areas such as India, you could be mistaken for assuming they are neglecting their domestic responsibilities. However, there is no doubt that the Australian authorities have been very proactive in investment in the domestic education system and while there are still skills shortages in some areas of the economy the situation is nowhere near as worrying as it was a few years ago.
In the short term it seems likely that the Australian authorities will at least look to protect domestic workers from the ongoing economic storm gathering over Europe but ventures such as the Indian campus are long-term goals and long-term investments. They may well take some time to grow and the return on investment could be decades down the line, but at this point in time it does seem a sensible move and a good idea for the future.
The Australian authorities have never been backward in coming forward with regards to investment in the education system, as we have seen over many years. While the plans to introduce an Australian campus in India may well worry some people there is no doubt it is a sensible approach to fill a lack of skilled workers in some areas of the Australian economy. Ongoing investment in the domestic workforce will continue and hopefully these two areas will come together to make the Australian economy stronger as a whole and perhaps it will improve relations after the recent stand-off between the Indian expat community and some areas of the Australian population.