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Article Summary

The Benefits of Australian Education for Indian Students

Australia’s international education and training sector is valued for the benefits it provides to communities and individuals in Australia and overseas. It contributes to Australia’s prosperity and social advancement and helps build Australia’s international standing.

There is no doubt that India is a key partner for Australia in its international education engagement activities. Dating back to the Colombo Plan of the 1950s, Australia and India have a long history of engagement in international education.

A vibrant international education and training sector is one where Australia is recognised as:

• A provider of excellent education and training within and outside its borders
• A partner of choice for training, education and research collaboration
• A country that welcomes international students and the internationalisation of Australian students and helps them to achieve their goals
• A country whose people appreciate the significant economic and social benefits which an internationalised education sector contributes Drivers of student choice

There are a number of key drivers of choice at each stage of the international student experience, with varying levels of importance and degrees to which they can be influenced. Cost, career and global mobility are the most important. Students also value the quality of education and broader international experiences - including the quality of teaching and content, safety, culture, support services, employment opportunities while studying - as well as alumni networks and work experience opportunities.

Australia’s diverse education system

International education is an integral part of the Australian education system, encompassing four diverse sectors:

• English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS)   provides English language tuition and prepares overseas students for progressing to further study within Australia. The initial English language or bridging course is often the first point of contact for international students and acts as a pathway to other educational institutions;

• Schools   which includes government and non-government institutions;

• Vocational Education and Training (VET)   including TAFEs, dual sector universities and private colleges. This provides practical training and education, preparing trainees for jobs at various levels from a trade to a professional position; and

• Higher Education   the largest sector for international students, enrolling predominantly  in universities.

Australian institutions across all sectors have established operations overseas, providing high quality education through their offshore activities.

The Australian Government has moved to strengthen regulatory and compliance frameworks. In the higher education sector, regulation is conducted by TEQSA and in the VET sector by ASQA. ELICOS providers are regulated by ASQA, unless they are predominantly higher education institutions.

Growth since the turn of the century has been particularly significant. The total number of enrolments by international students in Australia grew by 65 per cent during the three year period from 2006 to 2009. This was primarily driven by unsustainable increases in the VET sector, which experienced annual growth rates of around 50 per cent in 2007 and 2008. Due to a number of well documented factors, enrolments have declined since reaching a peak of 630,700 in 2009. However, recent student visa data suggests that international student numbers are likely to start increasing again in 2014.

Students value the quality of education, qualification, reputation of the institution and the broader international experience, including employment and work experience opportunities. Other important drivers of student choice include cost, career options and global mobility opportunities.

Working while studying

As an international student in Australia, gaining work experience, either through part-time, casual or voluntary work, will benefit you. Work experience in your academic discipline in particular is an advantage to employers who tend to look for more than academic ability in their future employees.

Your student visa allows you to work up to 20 hours per week. However, there are a number of conditions that you will need to meet.Many international students find that part-time work is a great way to give them a little extra money, on top of their available funds, to spend on entertainment or unexpected bills. However, do not rely on wages from part-time work to support your life in Australia.

The journey so far

Australia’s international education sector has evolved remarkably over the past 60 years, from its foundations in the aid-focused Colombo Plan, through the maturation of a market system toward the end of the 20th Century. From these foundations, Australia now provides far more scholarships than it did during the Colombo Plan era and has become a highly popular destination for self - funded international students. The Colombo Plan saw around 570 international students in Australia every year, while today almost 5,100 Australia Awards are offered annually and around 400,000 international students study in Australia at their own expense. A feature of Australia’s mature international education sector is that second and third - generation students are following in the footsteps of their parents and relatives in pursuing an Australian education experience.

India and Australia: A cooperative relationship While it's important that our governments maintain their good links and mutual collaboration, it is people-to-people links - strengthened very much by immigration - that are key to further strengthening the relationships between India and Australia.

It is people - not just governments - who forge close ties that are essential for the well-being of both nations. They arise from the greatest cross-cultural and economic development programme of all: immigration.

Indian migrants in Australian society
One of the great strengths in our relationship is the Indian Diaspora in Australia.
The Indian-Australian community, including second generation Indian-Australians, is one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic communities in Australia.
The Indian Diaspora brings a great richness to Australian society as a whole and through the unique people who have made singular and collective contributions across all facets of Australian life.
India is Australia's second largest source of overseas students, representing around a quarter of all international students.
Skilled and student migration - strengthening our partnership
Australia's skilled migration programme provides an immediate gateway to building closer ties between India and Australia.

India is now consistently one of the top three source countries for skilled permanent migration and temporary skilled workers. Over the last two decades, 2,23,000 permanent migrants from India have arrived in Australia, with over three-quarters on skilled visas.

It is a very positive indicator of our growing economic relationship that India has become such a substantial part of Australia skilled migration programme. Indian migrants are both welcome and successful in Australia and it benefits both countries. 

Education presents one of the most valuable opportunities for both countries to lay the foundation for an enduring partnership at an economic, social and political level. But perhaps more importantly, having thousands of young Indians furthering their education in Australia means that - if we get it right - they will go through life as firm friends of Australia with fond memories of their Australian education, maintaining links with Australia and Australians and understanding the perspectives and interests. This is a great benefit for bilateral relations.