Education a big winner from India trade deal

  • Joint media release with:
  • The Hon Stuart Robert MP, Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business Acting Minister for Education and Youth

The recently signed trade deal between Australia and India will help unlock the full potential of the education relationship between both countries, creating jobs and opportunities in Australia.

Indian international students studying in Australia contributed more than $6.4 billion to the economy in 2019, pre-COVID. India is Australia's second largest source market for international student enrolments, accounting for 15.2% of international students in 2019, pre- COVID, and 16.3% in 2022.

Under the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI ECTA) signed on Saturday:

  • Australia has confirmed post-study work rights in a side letter to a free trade agreement and will extend access for STEM graduates. Australia will maintain opportunities for former Indian students to live, study and work temporarily upon completion of a diploma or trade qualification (up to 18 months), bachelor degree (up to two years), masters degrees (up to three years) or doctoral degree (up to four years). An additional year will be available for Indians who graduate with bachelor degrees in STEM and ICT with First Class Honors (from two to three years).
  • Higher education and adult education are subsectors India has guaranteed the equivalent to the best treatment accorded to its future FTA partners, meaning Australian suppliers will always receive India's best market access given in the future to any country.
  • India has agreed to implement a framework to facilitate the mutual recognition of qualifications, licensing and registration procedures between professional services bodies. This framework will facilitate the improvement of recognition of professional qualifications, and promote two-way mobility.
  • Australia will also provide new access for young Indians to participate in working holidays in Australia. Places in Australia's Work and Holiday program will be set at 1,000 per year and Australia will have two years to implement the outcome. This is expected to contribute to both workforce requirements and to tourism in the post- COVID recovery.
  • India will provide a reciprocal work-based immigration route for Australians who successfully complete their studies and who wish to supplement their training with professional experience in India, to open up greater opportunities post-study.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said the education sector held the greatest promise for Australia's trading relationship with India.

“One million Indians turn 18 every month, so there is a huge and growing demand for a high- quality education,” Mr Tehan said.

“As a world-class education provider, Australia is well placed to partner with India across secondary, university and vocational sectors.”

Acting Minster for Education and Youth Stuart Robert said education is Australia's top services export in the trade relationship with India.

“There is opportunity to leverage strong connections built through our long-standing partnership in education, skills and research to expand and diversify cooperation,” Minister Robert said.

The AI ECTA followed the Australian and Indian governments' 21 March announcement to establish a Taskforce on Education Qualifications Recognition to optimise mobility outcomes for Australian and Indian students and graduates, and their education institutions, through improved recognition of Australian and Indian higher education qualifications.

“By addressing the recognition of online and blended learning, joint degrees and offshore campuses, the taskforce will work to create an environment for increased education cooperation and exchange for mutual benefit,” Minister Robert said.

“This agreement supports delivery of the Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030, which commits to action to strengthen bilateral education cooperation on the recognition of Australian qualifications, and to support sustainable growth of Australia's high- quality education services offshore.”


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