The first meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on student mobility between India and Australia was held at the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs on October 6, 2009.
The delegations were led by G. Gurucharan, Joint Secretary, MOIA, and by Dr. Lachlan Strahan, Deputy High Commissioner, Australia, and Mr Colin Walters, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Education International.
The joint working group reaffirmed that Australia and India are committed to working together closely to address, with resolve and in a time-bound manner, issues affecting Indian students in Australia.
"India and Australia are determined to effectively tackle issues relating to ensuring quality among education agents and education providers, and to promote best practices in the regulation and quality assurance of student movement between the two countries. Both sides recognize that poor quality and unscrupulous education providers and agents are simply unacceptable", it said.
Australia briefed India on measures under way to improve international student well-being in Australia including through:
The International Students Strategy, being developed by the Council of Australian Governments under the leadership of the Prime Minister and Premiers of Australian States, which will tackle issues in the areas of provider quality, student accommodation, safety, employment and migration.
A Review of the Education Services for Overseas Students Act, being conducted by Bruce Baird, a former federal and State Minister.
Legislation introduced into the Australian Parliament which will require the re registration of all education providers able to enrol overseas students against tightened criteria by the end of 2010; the legislation will also require providers to list the education agents they use and will provide for additional regulation of providers' use of education agents.
The production of a new manual for international students with comprehensive guidance about studying and living in Australia.
India briefed Australia on Indian Government consideration of measures to regulate enrolment agents and require the registration of students prior to departure overseas and the pre-departure training proposed to be developed and delivered through various agencies.
The meeting reached agreement on a number of practical measures for implementation with specific time lines to:
Collaborate in developing robust regulatory mechanisms for the activities of education providers and enrolment agents in India and Australia.
Develop and conclude a Memorandum of Understanding on the better management of student mobility between the two countries, including the exchange of information on undesirable or illegal activities of agents, and other information relating to the quality of education providers and agents.
Collaborate on the provision of a student information service by MOIA for prospective students, including to enable them to verify claims made by education and enrolment agents; the service will include Australia's new manual for international students.
Work together on the development of a training module for pre-departure information for Indian students intending to study in Australia.
Collaborate over the creation of a registration system by the Indian Government for Indian students travelling overseas to study.
The meeting agreed that an India-Australia Task force will fast track these issues and report to the Joint Working Group, with a full timetable and deliverables.
The next meeting of the Joint Working Group will take place in Australia in the second half of 2010.
The meeting noted that the development of tighter regulatory systems in India and Australia will require the agreement of joint operating protocols to underpin the regulation. Progress on this issue will also be reported to the Joint Working Group.