Dharmendra Pradhan, Lisa Singh and Jason Clare

The Indian Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan, who is on a four-day visit to Australia, on Sunday received a warm welcome from the Indian diaspora in Sydney, Australia.

“Gratitude to the vibrant Indian community for the love and affection, especially my Odia brothers & sisters for giving me a feeling of home away from home,” the Minister tweeted.

Dharmendra Pradhan’s visit to Australia will include his interactions to broaden engagement between the two countries in areas of learning, skilling, research, innovation and entrepreneurship.

During the visit, the Indian minister will co-chair the sixth meeting of the Australia-India Education Council with his Australian counterpart minister Jason Clare.

In a statement prior to his departure, Dharmendra Pradhan said that reforms in India’s education sector and the renewed vigour in India-Australia relations opens up immense opportunities for both sides to “establish the knowledge economy as a key pillar of our cooperation”.

In addition to holding the Education portfolio, Dharmendra Pradhan is also the Union Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. He expressed confidence that the tour will add momentum to “our unity of purpose, help build trans-national knowledge bridges, further broaden our engagements at all levels in all areas of learning, skilling, research, innovation and entrepreneurship and deepen people-to-people connect”.

Spending his first two days in Sydney, Minister Pradhan visited Western Sydney University (WSU) and along with Sarah Mitchell, NSW Minister for Education, Pradhan visited a school, a TAFE and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) interacting with the Vice-Chancellors and senior representatives of the Australian Government, Department of Education.


Also read: ARCH-India: World Class Discovery and Opportunity in Research

Minister Pradhan also co-chaired the sixth meeting of the Australia India Education Council with Jason Clare.

“Co-chaired the 6th meeting of the Australia-India Education Council with HE @JasonClareMP at the Western Sydney University Campus. Pleased to meet in person today, more than two years after the last AIEC meeting that was held in India. I am glad that both Australia and India recognize the value of education and innovation in the growth, development and prosperity of our societies. Minister @JasonClareMP and I agreed to further deepen our long-standing bilateral relations in education, skilling and research,” tweeted Pradhan.

In a statement, the Education Ministry said that the two sides had fruitful discussions on further strengthening cooperation in education, skill development, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

During a joint press conference hosted by both the Indian and Australian Education ministers, Minister Pradhan also raised the issue of pending visas of Indian students waiting to come to Australia after having paid their fees in full.

Minister Pradhan told journalists, “… last month… [indistinct] raised this issue of backlog. He (Minister Clare) personally assured me he will look into the backlog issue. Yes, backlog issue is a concern for India because a lot of student(s) have already budgeted their fees and entrance charges and are waiting for coming to Australia for their career…”.

“… I’m confident my friend will look into that answer”, Minister Pradhan added.

In his comments Minister Jason Clare added, It’s a serious issue. Indian students have paid up. They’re keen to come here. We want them here in Australia being part of our higher education system… There’s still more work that we have to do, and I’m working closely with Clare O’Neil, the Minister for Home Affairs on that task… the backlog in visas application was something like one million when we came to office and in part because of COVID, but it’s a big task and one we’re working on.”

Also two landmark initiatives Australian Researcher Cooperation Hub-India (ARCH-India) and the Australia India Research Students Fellowship (AIRS Fellowship) program  were launched in Sydney by Australian Education Minister The Hon Jason Clare and Indian Minister of Education and Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship The Hon Dharmendra Pradhan.

Australia India Institute’s CEO the Hon Lisa Singh attended the formal launch.

“Australia and India have a long history of partnership and cooperation. Yet there remains untapped potential to deepen our research links,” Ms Singh said.

“Both countries have advanced research and development capabilities. Here is an opportunity to reveal and connect the unique expertise of both nations and work together to address the complex challenges facing the Indo-Pacific and the world.”

Part of the India Economic Strategy to 2035 Action Plan, these initiatives will help to position Australia as a partner of choice for India’s research needs and will be delivered by the Australia India Institute and supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Education.

Today, Minister Pradhan will visit Kangan Institute and Deakin University in Melbourne. He will meet academicians and leaders of the Australian education and skilling ecosystem and the vibrant Indian diaspora residing in Melbourne.

Minister Pradhan will also hold a virtual bilateral meeting with Brendan O’Connor MP, Minister for Skills and Training.

Tomorrow the union minister will hold a dialogue with the Group of Eight (Universities) – Australia’s most research-intensive universities-on building a successful Australia-India research collaboration.

He will also hold a dialogue, organised by Australia India Chamber of Commerce and Monash University.

The Minister will also interact with the Indian Students in Melbourne.

An official release stated the visit by the Indian Education Minister aims to strengthen India-Australia ties and foster cooperation in education and skill development.

The India-Australia bilateral relationship has undergone an evolution in recent years, developing along a positive track, into a strategic partnership. The two nations have much in common, underpinned by shared values, expanding economic engagement and increasing high-level interaction.

The long-standing people-to-people ties, ever-increasing Indian students coming to Australia for higher education, and growing tourism and sporting links have played a significant role in further strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.

Australia and India are working on the mutual recognition of education qualifications. How people with qualifications from India are able to use them in Australia is the area of focus at the moment.

Minister Clare told journalists in Sydney yesterday, “working on mutual recognition of education qualifications, that will help to underpin the growth in students studying here in Australia as well as Australian students being able to study in India. I think we made some good progress on that front.”

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