Australian Deputy PM to launch institute in India


New Delhi : Australian Deputy Prime Minister Julian Gillard comes to India Monday on a five-day visit in a bid to boost bilateral ties in fields ranging from business to education.

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The highlight of her trip will be the launch of the Australia-India Institute in New Delhi, an initiative expected to build better understanding between people of the two countries.

The visit comes against the backdrop of allegedly racist attacks on Indian students in Australia during the last three months.

The institute, a joint initiative of the University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales and La Trobe University, will support research, graduate training, executive briefings, policy advice and knowledge transfer for the benefit of both countries.

It will enable students, staff and the Australian community to gain a greater understanding of India and the rich bilateral relationship through courses of study, conferences and relevant research, the Australian high commission said here ahead of Gillard’s maiden visit to India.

Gillard, who heads diverse ministries including education, employment and social inclusion, will also go to Chennai that sends many students to Australia every year. Around 100,000 Indians study in Australia, contributing around $2 billion to the host country.

The principal aim of her visit, Gillard stressed, was to reinforce Australia’s image as “a culturally diverse, welcoming and safe country for Indian students, business people and other visitors”.

In her meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Gillard is expected to highlight myriad initiatives the Australian government has undertaken to buttress security for around 100,000 Indians studying Down Under.

She is expected to highlight steps taken by Canberra to improve the education experience for overseas students in Australia, including tighter regulation of education providers, a review of the Australian government’s legislation governing international students, and the coming International Students Round Table.

She will also launch several key initiatives involving Australian and Indian educational institutions and meet some Indian students who have studied in Australia.

Gillard’s talks with Indian leaders here will set the stage for the visit of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd later this year.