Peter Varghese’s report on Australia doing business with India is out and the former head of DFAT and present chancellor of the University of Queensland does not protect the feelings of anybody in education.
“Despite Australia’s strong international reputation in the education sector and a high quality education ‘system’ as a whole, Indian students perceive Australian education to lack gravitas,” he warns.
This applies to higher education; “many Indian students perceive Australian universities to lack close connections to industry, especially compared to competitor countries like Canada.”
And it explains why VET has not cracked the vast Indian market. “The high volume, low cost model needed for India does not stack up economically for most Australian providers, who operate on a low volume, high cost structure.”
Nor will things get easier on-line. “Competition from domestic local low-cost providers will hinder the rate of adoption of online distance education from international suppliers.”
Mr Varghese suggests practical solutions to problems, most of which will take time but as is clear, Australia has to start somewhere.
The Group of Eight was quick to endorse the Varghese report last night, not least because it has much in common with the Eight’s approach.
“The Go8 welcomes the strategy document, especially the recognition that there is no sector with greater promise for Australia in India than education, and the need to increase and deepen two-way research links. We are delighted to see many of our suggestions reflected in the report, and urge the Turnbull Government to accept the recommendations,” CEO Vicki Thomson said last night.