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Thank you my friend, Minister Pradhan.
And my thanks also to Professor C Sheela Reddy, the Principal of Sri Venkateshwara College, and to Vice Chancellor of Delhi University Professor Yogesh Singh for your very warm welcome.
I am here with:
- The Australian High Commissioner
- 10 Vice Chancellors, an Acting Vice Chancellor, two Deputy Vice Chancellors and a Provost from Australian Universities;
- The incoming Secretary of Australia’s Department of Education;
- Seven CEOs and senior executives of Australian higher education peak groups;
- The Chief Commissioner of Australia’s higher education regulator, TEQSA;
- Two former Ministers;
And one cricket superstar – Adam Gilchrist.
But you are the stars we want to meet.
I mean that.
What happens in our universities can change the world.
They always have.
From new businesses to cures for cancers.
They emerge in places like this.
People like Dr Parul Ganju who graduated from here in 2007 with a degree in biochemistry.
She is now the founder and CEO of a company developing treatments for people with chronic skin diseases.
Last year she was the BioSpectrum Asia Woman Entrepreneur of the Year.
That’s the power of education.
To do good.
To transform lives and nations.
And she came from here.
Minister Pradhan and I both believe in the power of education to change nations.
When we met last year I asked him if he was happy to become the Minister for Education.
He smiled at me and said “Jason. It is the mother portfolio. It is what makes everything else possible.”
There is a lot of wisdom in that.
Education makes everything possible.
We talked a lot about our two countries.
I said to him that if we got in a time machine and went back 50 years, he would not recognise the Australia we found.
When I was born only 7 percent of Australians had a university degree.
Today, almost 1 in 2 young Australians do.
We are a different country.
Then Minister Pradhan took me in his time machine – set to 2035.
Twelve years into the future.
By then the Indian Government plans to have half of its young people in vocational and higher education.
That is nation-changing stuff.
It could mean that by 2035, 1 in 4 graduates in the world come from the Indian higher education system.
When he was in Australia, Minister Pradhan laid down the challenge for us to be part of this.
For our higher education providers to be part of this.
Dhamendra, they heard you and they are here.
Some already offer courses at Indian Universities.
Some want to set up campuses.
Some are setting up offices.
Some are here to sign agreements.
All want to learn, want to help and want to be part of this bigger, deeper partnership in India.
We’re building on what is already a very close relationship.
Right now, there are around 70,000 Indian students studying in Australia, mostly in higher education and vocational training.
In the past 17 years more than one and a half million Indian students have studied in Australia.
More than 1,700 of our university lecturers and tutors have Indian ancestry.
Right here, Delhi University has memoranda of understanding with three Australian Universities – Macquarie University, the University of Wollongong and the University of Melbourne.
Tomorrow 10 new Memoranda will be signed between Indian and Australian institutions.
Also tomorrow Minister Pradhan and I will sign an important agreement.
The Mechanism for the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications.
It locks in the rules for mutual recognition to access education in Australia and India.
It delivers immediate benefits for students and higher education institutions in both our countries.
It means that an Indian student can be sure that a degree they obtain from an Australian University will be recognised if they want to continue higher education in India.
Or they may be able to study a course structured with stages at an Australian university campus here or another country, and then complete their bachelor’s degree in Australia, and be confident their education qualification will be recognised in India.
I’m advised it’s the broadest and most favourable recognition that India has signed with any country to date.
And I see this as a two-step process.
The first is the Mechanism.
The second is to work with professions on mutual recognition agreements, so Australian and Indian graduates will be able to practice professionally in either country.
That’s something that we will look at in the context of our new Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement with India.
It is an exciting time.
The world is getting a bit smaller.
More things are becoming possible.
And you are at the centre of it.
Adam is not just the last Australian Captain to win a Test Series in India.
And I promise I haven’t smuggled him into the country to redeem some national pride this week in Indore.
Adam was born into a family that understood the power of education.
His Mum and Dad were both school teachers.
His parents made sure that he completed his high school education by correspondence when he went to England on a cricket scholarship at 17.
For someone like me he was a hero.
And still is.
Someone I could live vicariously through, watching him perform miracles at the crease.
Hit balls out of the park.
Save Australia from certain defeat.
He won’t be there in Indore today.
But we are all lucky he is here.
Drawn by the same passion and belief that inspired his mum and dad.
He’s working with the University of Wollongong.
Helping set up a campus of the University right here in India.
Helping bring our two countries closer together.
And creating more opportunities for young students like yourselves to change their lives and change the world around them.
Don’t doubt for a second that what you do here has that potential.
And I know you will all be equal to that challenge.
I wish you the very best of luck in your studies.