Australia is looking to partner with Indian institutions to offer vocational courses while encouraging students to go over to that country for university programmes in general and for postgraduate programmes in particular.

This was stated by High Commissioner of Australia to India Peter N. Varghese here on Wednesday. He was interacting with students and faculty members of the University of Kerala.

Vocational courses in Australia were seen as a pathway to employment and permanent residency in that country. While it still encouraged permanent residency, the Australian government had now decided to “separate the pathways of education and employment,” he said.

With the high degree of autonomy that Australian universities enjoyed, individual institutions would have to take a call on setting up campuses in India. Australians universities were waiting to read the small print in the legislation relating to foreign universities before taking a call on this. All the same, Australian universities were looking to put in place collaborative ventures with their Indian counterparts in the form of dual degrees and twinning programmes. Most Australian universities would prefer a partnership with an institution in India over a go-it-alone mode, he said.

Indian studies in Australia needed rebuilding. There were more of Indian studies in Australian universities in the 1960s than there were now. The Australian government recognised this and wanted to change the situation.

The setting up of the Australia-India Institute in the University of Melbourne in 2009 was a step in this direction, he said.

In the coming days, India would be a central player in the security of the Asian region which, in turn, was fundamental to the security of Australia.

The two countries should evolve a common strategy to update global institutions which, when they were set up, were meant to reflect a world view of the 1940s. The half-million-strong Indian diaspora was the bridgehead between the two nations.

A lot of work had to be done to ensure that the two countries did not have an outdated understanding of each other. As part of efforts to change such perceptions, the Australian government would in October organise ‘Aus-Fest' in 15 locations in India to showcase that nation's achievements on the cultural, literary, economic and technological fronts, Mr. Varghese he said.