The NSW university taking Australian degrees to India
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London: The University of Wollongong is opening Australia’s first university campus in India, saying the precinct will give Indians who can’t afford to live overseas a shot at obtaining a prized Australian degree at half the price.
UOW’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Frino said that he had long wanted to open a campus in India but could not do so because of restrictions on foreign unis.
An artist’s impression of GIFT city in India, which will host a University of Wollongong campus.
“It’s a country where we’ve got enormous engagement, we’ve been waiting to enter for many years,” Frino said.
The wait ended when the government of India changed the laws to allow top-ranked institutions to open foreign campuses at the futuristic GIFT City in the western Indian state of Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India wants the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT city), located between the cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, to become an international financial and IT hub.
UOW’s campus will open on September 18 and initially offer post-graduate degrees including a Master of Computing Science in Finance; as well as Finance and Accounting.
University of Wollongong Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Alex Frino.Credit: Daniel Munoz
When undergraduate degrees are offered, they will be in business and IT and courses will be half the cost of degrees in Australia.
“It’s an opportunity to provide students who couldn’t otherwise afford to come to Australia to study an Australian degree,” Frino said. “It’s really about making education more affordable.”
The number of Indian students enrolling at UOW in Australia overtook the number of Chinese entrants after the pandemic to form the university’s largest cohort of overseas students.
And about 40 per cent of the University’s 12,430 international students in 2022 studied at offshore campuses in Dubai, Malaysia and Hong Kong or in Singapore and China where UOW operates through partnerships with local institutions.
In India, UOW’s reputation will precede it.
“When we start our operation we will be the second-highest ranked university in India (IIT Mumbai is ahead), so our belief is that quality will attract numbers,” Frino said.
Frino hopes the Indian campus will eventually outsize its other overseas operations. The student population in Malaysia and Hong Kong are about 6000 and 5000 more in Dubai.
“They’re located in much smaller countries relative to India, so we have aspirations that it will be one of the biggest campuses that we operate,” he said.
GIFT City is currently under construction.Credit: Google Earth
Two initial post-doctoral research scholarships focussed on finance and financial flows will also be offered under the supervision of Australians.
“It’s a really nice way of kicking off our campus activities because research is part of being a fully-fledged university operating in the way it normally operates in any other country.”
The PhDs will be funded by Tat Capital, a company owned by Indian-Australian businessman Ram Gorlamanda, who founded his company after studying at Sydney’s Macquarie University.
“Australian education, in my opinion, is as competent as any European and North American degree but definitely doesn’t come with the same kind of price tag,” Gorlamanda said.
Ram Gorlamandala, CEO and Founder of Tat Capital.
“There is obviously a greater fascination for Ivy League but when you move out of the Ivy League schools I believe any of the Australian universities are the same level of competence beyond the branding.”
The campus will have a starting operating budget of around $1 million per year with the bulk of costs going towards staff and IT, with the premises to be leased.
Frino said that he hopes that in a decade’s time, the campus will have around 10,000 students and is producing relevant research.
“If we’re not delivering for the community then why are we there? That’s a really important component of success in 10 years.”
Gorlamanda said he hoped to boost two-way investment between Australian and Indian companies with his collaboration and help Australia in particular diversify its commodity-dependent economy.
“Australia tends to be a price-taker where the greater region decides what price they will put on an Australian commodity and Australia has no choice but to sell at the price that greater Asians have been making,” he said.
“This partnership is a significant opportunity to break the gap and enable two-way markets.”
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