India, Australia to establish taskforce to recognise online, blended learning

Australian education system
A new taskforce will work on making it easier for Indians to study in Australia without a qualification from an Australian education system. Source: Sam Wasson/AFP

Good news for international students from India: Australia and India is establishing a taskforce on qualifications recognition which could improve Indian students’ chances of qualifying for a spot at Australian universities without going through the Australian education system.

Indian and Australian Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Scott Morrison announced on Monday that the taskforce will address the recognition of online and blended learning, joint degrees and offshore campuses. 

“The taskforce will deliver a mechanism for expanding education qualification recognition between Australia and India by the end of the year, with implementation to take place in 2023,” said a statement by Australian Acting Minister for Education and Youth Stuart Robert.

It will also support the implementation of the Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030. This move will serve to strengthen bilateral education cooperation on the recognition of Australian qualifications, to support the sustainable growth of the country’s education services offshore. 

“Australia has a longstanding and strong relationship with India across education, skills and research,” said Robert. “The taskforce will pave the way for new opportunities for graduates of both India and Australia to use their qualifications.”

According to Robert, the taskforce will consult with stakeholders to identify opportunities to recognise Australian and Indian higher education qualifications. It will also use best principles and practices in recognition to make recommendations for the improvement of these arrangements. 

“This collaboration will serve both countries by expanding cooperation in education, and optimising mobility outcomes for Australian and Indian students and graduates, and our education institutions,” he added.

Improved qualifications recognition will allow more students from India and Australia to work, study, and immigrate to either country. Source: Mark Makela/AFP

‘Qualification recognition arrangements’ explained

The establishment of qualification recognition arrangements, fundamentally means the recognition of a qualification gained in one country as equal or comparable to one obtained from another country. This is integral to easing the processes of applying to immigrate, work, or continue education in another country. 

This could smoothen the processes for studying abroad in a number of ways. For example, it may allow for a student to apply for university using their national qualification rather than its international equivalent, which may not necessarily be available in all schools. This way, a student may not need to take an extra qualification in a field they have already mastered to be eligible for entry into an international university. 

Recognition agreements don’t necessarily guarantee that qualifications will be accepted as equal by another country. However, reports suggest it may help immigration officials, employers, and education providers better understand how a qualification relates to those in their own countries. 

This will make it easier for Indians to integrate into the Australian education system, and vice versa.

Universities Australia are welcoming the move, citing it as “further proof” of India and Australia’s strong relationship in education. Source: Mark Makela/AFP

Efforts to recognise Indian and Australian education systems welcomed by academic community

Education advocates Universities Australia has welcomed the move to establish a special taskforce on qualifications recognition between the two countries. The peak body for the university sector said it takes this as “further proof of the strength of the bilateral education relationship between the two countries”.

Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the qualification recognition has been a growing area of importance for Australia. The concept was most recently brought up in a parliamentary inquiry exploring Australia’s ratification of the “Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education”.

“We would expect that microcredentials will also be on the table,” she added. “Ensuring ‘recognition’ of Australian degrees or microcredentials is important for Indian students going home, and Australian students working in India. The bite-sized credentials are critical to upskill and reskill, and would be central to India’s push for 29 million more skilled workers by 2030.”

“This is an important and positive step forward, and Universities Australia looks forward to progress in achieving mutual qualification recognition,” Jackson added. 

India remains a key partner to Australia in international education. According to Jackson, there were more than 90,000 Indian higher education students preferred the Australian education system before the pandemic, and over 16% of the country’s student visa holders are of Indian nationality. 

Due to this, there have been increased efforts to enable Indians to study abroad in Australia. In February, the Australian government announced a series of initiatives to boost its education and cultural ties with India. This includes the Maitri Scholars Program, which will provide over $11 million Australian dollars for four years to support Indians to study in Australia.

Such initiatives are supposed to counter the anti-Australian sentiment growing within the international student community after the prolonged border closure prevented them from returning to their universities. In December, a study found that Indian students are choosing to pursue their education in other countries such as the UK, the US, and Canada.