Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison needs to move fast to protect Australia’s education trade with India, now that the world’s biggest democracy has given Prime Minister Narendra Modi a second term in power.
Modi is a reformer – he can move fast and in surprising ways. We know he wants to transform education and there might be some shocks ahead for Australian universities.
Modi knows Indians mainly study abroad because their Indian universities are not up to standard. So he wants to change that.
The second Modi Government is aiming to boost India’s very low rankings among global universities. Freeing up his university sector will see closer ties with elite universities in England and America, and we could fall down the list if we do not act now.
Based on his track record so far, the Indian PM could make massive changes, deregulating up to one hundred of its best universities at any time soon.
Many in Delhi are critical of Australian universities which they claim have simply wanted a one-way transaction to make money out of Indian students. While some of our universities have created serious collaborations with India, in general this criticism is valid.
The next wave of education will see success for those who can create real collaboration, with two-way exchanges of students. Whether Australia can move fast on this is in doubt.
PM Modi is a politician who is not afraid of delivering surprises, as shown with his demonetisation move in his first term aimed at reducing corruption and driving the economy to digital rather than cash transactions. Surprises can transform into shocks if the leaders do not have a close personal connection – that’s why PM Morrison needs to act now to shore up our education trade.