Australia’s Deakin University, which will be the first foreign education institution to set up a campus in GIFT City (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City), will roll out academic programmes from July 2024 where students will also have the option to migrate to campuses in its home country, its Vice-Chancellor, Iain Martin, has said.
Deakin’s arrival in India was announced by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Ahmedabad in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. Its international branch campus will be spread over 25,000 square feet within GIFT City, and will be set up with an investment of 4 million Australian dollars. The university will offer a Master’s programme in cybersecurity (professional) and a Master’s in Business Analytics. Deakin is a public university in Australia, and ranks 266 in the QS Global Rankings 2022.
“The entry criteria will be the same as that for our campuses in Australia, which are a good undergraduate degree, work experience and English language assessment. Programmes will be delivered in the same timeline and same trimester structure [February, July and October intake]. This means that a student here who would like to do a trimester of study in Australia could move seamlessly between our campus in Gujarat and one of our five campuses in Australia. But we will also give an Indian flavour through our Indian partners and case studies,” Professor Martin said in an interaction with The Hindu.
The university will start with an intake of 50-60 students and gradually raise that to nearly 100. While the tuition fee is yet to be finalised, it is estimated to be half of what Deakin charges on its campuses in Australia.
Among the factors that enables Deakin to plan a launch as early as next year is the availability of schools, affordable housing, hotels and recreational facilities within GIFT City, Professor Martin said. He said the IFSC norms announced last October for foreign campuses that require regulations and standards to be the same as the home campus made the opportunity attractive.
The USP of the courses offered by Deakin will be “cadetships” — research projects and internships available through its partnership with industries, university officials said. “This will lead us to scaling up of our operations as GIFT City grows and demand comes in,” said John Bolton, senior strategic adviser, Deakin University. The industry partners include Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, HSBC and Xebia.
While students finishing their postgraduate degree from Deakin’s campus in GIFT City will not have the benefit of post-study work visa (which is available only to students who study in Australia for a period of two years), there will be some advantages while seeking a job opportunity overseas. Students can seek a work visa as a skilled migrant.
“Their Australian degree will earn them extra points in their visa application where one of the questions is whether a candidate has a degree from an Australian university,” explained Ravneet Pawha, vice-president (Global Alliances) and CEO (South Asia), Deakin University.
As employers often have to sponsor work visas, there will be a lot more “confidence” when there is a globally accredited degree, added Prof. Martin.
Deakin University will start inviting applications from the end of 2023, and will also start recruiting faculty mid-2023 onwards. About 80% of the faculty will be hired from India and the remaining will come from Australia. Indian faculty will also benefit from opportunities available at Deakin’s home campuses, the officials said.
Australia’s University of Wollongong has also signed a Letter of Intent to set up a campus in GIFT City.
Dipesh Shah, executive director of the International Financial Services Centers Authority, told The Hindu that several players from the U.K. and the U.S. were also interested in setting up campuses.
Ashish Sharma, Senior Director - Trade & Investment, South Asia at Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), said, “We are excited that Deakin University is the first foreign university to set up a campus in India. Other Australian universities are also having discussions with Indian authorities to develop strategic opportunities in higher education and research. Our intent is to collaborate with India to help meet its long term objectives and to support development of innovative solutions in energy, food, water, healthcare and infrastructure.”