Professor Nick Klomp, the Vice Chancellor & President of Central Queensland University (CQUniversity) states that NEP 2020 has enabled both countries to utilise our potential fully in an exclusive interaction
India’s education sector is once again experiencing a new phenomenon through foreign universities being set up in the country. As education is a sector where different stakeholders are involved, few of the in-house institutions are seeing it as an intensification of the competition while others take it as an optimistic step for the Indian students. Indian students have a major ratio in the world universities; the advent of foreign universities in India is going to provide back to those students who always aspired to go abroad for their studies. Eventually, this can fill up the gap between students studying in the country and going outside for their studies.
Like India, the education system of Australia has also dynamic characteristics that are driven by progressive policies and futuristic approaches. In order to facilitate the government’s approach, a public university in Australia, CQUniversity collaborated with Infosys to make education accessible across the different sectors.
Prof Klomp speaks with BW Education to elaborate on the purpose and objective behind the international academia business strategy. Excerpts:
Unlike Indian institutions that collaborated with other international universities, the sector is witnessing something new in the form of Infosys and CQUniversity coming together. Please elaborate on this new partnership.
Yes, it is new and exciting, and it’s potentially important for both our countries. This has been enabled because of the NEP 2020 by the Indian government. The relationship between the Australian minister for education and the Indian minister for education implies that they clearly get along well and are very keen to promote business and opportunities between the two countries. Now because of the NEP, Australian universities can operate more freely, in partnership with industry and other universities in India. This agreement with Infosys is really exciting. Infosys is one of the largest IT companies in the world. They employ, I believe, 355,000 employees around the world, they are really big. They have their own training and education platforms. And one of them is called Springboard. And so the agreement we have just signed with Infosys is for CQUniversity to provide content for their Springboard platform (learning and teaching platform). Initially, we will be providing content in economics, finance and in journalism, and this allows people in India to access free of charge short courses in those areas.
We are striving to bring accessible education to India. Then there’s another platform that Infosys has developed, it’s called Wingspan. In the future, we’re looking to provide our entire courses, bachelor’s courses, postgraduate courses, and master’s courses, in areas like allied coasts, public health and business areas, that a lot of people would like to have qualifications in. Wingspan will allow people to be able to access those through Infosys and where content will be provided by CQUniversity, Australia. It’s really exciting. It’s very innovative. What I’m really proud of is that it is providing access to education to people, otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to access it in India.
The number of students who cannot afford an education is large, What do you want to say about the affordability aspect of this collaboration?
Yes, absolutely. Australia and India share very similar goals in this space. Because Australia also has very disbursed country, with many people living in regions and remotely. Having access to higher education is often difficult for people in Australia. It might be for financial reasons too. Infosys and CQUniversity are working together to provide those short courses for free. It allows people to get a taste of it, with Wingspan in the future, CQUniversity and Infosys develop more new courses, which will be much more accessible, financially more accessible, but of course, geographically more accessible because they want a remarkably innovative platform for learning and teaching platform. People will be able to exercise in ways that they wouldn’t be able to if they were expected to turn up to our campus. I think this is sort of addressing some of the challenges of tertiary education in both our countries, we struggled with the same thing in Australia. And I’m delighted to be able to join forces with Infosys to be able to deliver some of these opportunities for people in India.
The present Indian government is emphasising skilling, re-skilling and upskilling. How this collaboration is going to help in that part for the students?
This is a worldwide problem. The jobs of the future are going to require higher level qualifications and tertiary level higher education obligations. That’s the job of the future. We have got to make sure that we provide access to that sort of training and education. There’ll be a community where there are some people that have access to those high-quality jobs and some people that don’t, and that would be unfair. So I’m glad you mentioned skilling. But I’m also glad that you mentioned re-skilling because jobs are changing so quickly in modern economies, that is why people have got to be prepared to reskill as well. Now, how do they do that when they have a current job and family who won’t be inclined to send them back to university? But an opportunity to be able to study online and have that flexible approach, the sorts of things that we’re developing with Infosys. We are working to make reskilling opportunities really accessible. And that is not only good for that individual or that individual’s family, but it’s really good for business as well, because we need that qualified skilled workforce.
You mentioned the course in finance and journalism, while every company require a workforce good in automation and entrepreneurship. What do you think?
I think India is the country to talk about entrepreneurship. India is just amazing. Infosys is just a classic example of that, building itself up to one of the biggest IT companies in the world, but they are just so innovative. This partnership just proves that they are prepared to work to think outside the square, and aspire to provide educational opportunities for free. We the CQUniversity are a National University, but the opportunity to provide those skills and those opportunities for people in India, how could we have done that if we hadn’t joined forces with Infosys? Entrepreneurship is so important, I can see every individual and every company thinking in that space. It’s, it’s a delight to be working with Indian institutions because frankly, I think Australia get a lot to learn when it comes to entrepreneurship.
How do you find India is different from other countries?
India’s got a lot of things that many countries don’t have. The first thing is a young population, one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. There are lots of things that are actually similar between Australia and India. And not just our love for cricket. There are lots of other things as well. For example, both countries have big cities, but we also have regional areas where access to education and other opportunities is difficult. And of course, we both share a history of colonialism, and we have a current commitment to democracy. So there are so many other things that we share that are in common, but lots of things for us to learn from each other too.