Strategic partnership with India accrues benefits

A delegation comprising officials and representatives of the New Zealand Education Sector met with their Indian counterparts at the inaugural meeting of the New Zealand India Education Council (NZIEC) held in New Delhi on October 19, 2012.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce led the delegation.

Prime Minister John Key and India’s Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh announced the establishment of the Council at their meeting held in Hyderabad House in New Delhi on June 28, 2011 (Indian Newslink, July 1, 2011).

The Council is a mechanism to guide tertiary education activities and projects.

Joint investment

INZEC is co-chaired at Ministerial level.

India and New Zealand are jointly investing up to $1 million annually on equal- share basis.

The investment is not a pooled fund.

There is limited flexibility in the Indian system (public sector) to disperse funds directly across borders. Models of cooperation should consider this constraint.

INZEC will support the governance and direction of investment and promote partnerships in two key streams, namely, higher education and research, and skills and vocational education.

The thematic areas for cooperation were announced in a Joint Statement issued during the visit of Kapil Sibal (then Human Resources Minister and currently Science & Technology Minister) to New Zealand in 2010.

Complex and challenging

The Indian education system is large and complex, with dozens of government agencies and other organisations responsible for leading parts of the system.

To enhance and streamline international engagement, channelling activity (and funding) through a Council mechanism is one way of addressing this complexity.

There is precedent in the Indian system for bilateral cooperation in this way, with the India-Australia Education Council closely resembling the intent and likely activities of INZEC.

Experiences with other similar initiatives, such as the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative (UKEIRI) may also help inform deliberations of INZEC.

Global workforce

India is estimating that it would supply one third of the global work force by 2022, with a majority aged less than 29 years.

It has also been estimated that at least 500 million Indians need to be trained to address the global need.

This works out to about 47,000 graduates per day.

New Zealand institutions may be excited at this opportunity but it would come with many challenges.

India is investing billions of dollars on this inspirational vision, which New Zealand can share with its expertise in vocational skills.

Everyone across the education sector, from universities and polytechnics to private tertiary establishments and industry training organisations can benefit from being a part of India’s skills growth plan.

Niche provision

The key to success would be to identify a niche provision and sharing that with the Indian counterparts.

Such partnerships would also involve sharing intellectual properties and building relationships with existing private and public partners in India.

This process would enable us to continuously support our government’s vision of increasing export education revenue from $2.3 billion to $5 billion by 2020.

Feroz Ali is the Founder and Managing Director of New Zealand Career College (NZCC) with six Campuses across New Zealand. NZCC was the sponsor of the Business Excellence in Export to India’ category at the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards Presentation Ceremony held at Sky City Convention Centre on November 19, 2012 (See related report in our Awards Special).

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