*Check against delivery*
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson:
It really is a privilege to be here this evening representing Australia’s universities.
It’s a time of great opportunity for Australia and India.
Our nations are close friends, bound by strategic, economic, and strong person-to-person connections.
And we are only getting closer.
Our governments, our universities, and our businesses are making sure of that.
In Australia and here in India, there is a clear focus on strengthening our bilateral relationship.
Importantly, education is front and centre.
That is where it belongs.
Our countries recognise the power of education and research.
The power to lift individuals and communities out of poverty, and to realise ambition and aspiration.
The power to drive change, drive economies, and drive progress.
We have been collaborating in education and research for a long time.
Australia and India have 450 formal partnerships between them.
Through these, Indian and Australian research teams are driving breakthroughs that propel both nations forward.
Australia’s universities are also providing a world-class education for increasing numbers of Indian students.
Since 2005, more than 1.5 million Indians have obtained an Australian university degree.
We can build on this – for the benefit of both nations.
And, as we know, India has a sweeping new education plan, full of bold ambition.
Australians like a big, bold plan.
You are aiming to educate 500 million students by 2035.
That’s 500 million in just 12 years.
Australia’s Education Minister, Jason Clare, describes it as “nation-changing”.
He is right.
You have asked for our help in this important endeavour, and we are a very willing partner.
Right now, more Indian students are studying at Australian universities than before the pandemic – around 130,000 of them.
Minister Clare was here last week with 11 Australian Vice-Chancellors.
This week I am here as part of the Prime Minister’s visit with the CEOs of the nation’s top exporters to India.
New partnerships announced during Minister Clare’s visit will help boost research collaboration, and the ways we can offer Indian students the life-changing opportunity an Australian university education brings.
The new rules for mutual recognition of degrees are a very welcome development and will get more students working in areas of severe skill shortage – quicker.
I have had the privilege of seeing first-hand the extraordinary work India and Australia’s research teams do during previous visits to this country.
The work is wide-ranging, but agriculture and water security are fields in which we work particularly closely.
These two areas will shape how we combat climate change and maintain good health for our people and our region.
The answers to the toughest challenges lie in research and education, and Australia and India do this very well.
As we grow even closer, we will become stronger together – for the benefit of one another, our economies, our societies and communities, and the region we call home.
This is a golden era for Australia and India’s relationship.
Let’s make the most of it.