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UQ Has Identified India As A Strategic Country To Engage With: Peter Høj, UQ Vice-Chancellor

In an exclusive interaction with BW, Peter Høj, Vice-Chancellor of University of Queensland (UQ), shares the new strategic plan of the university to align with India. He also talks about the importance of research, entrepreneurship and exclusive scholarships offered at the university for Indian students. Excerpts:

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What are your views on the changing higher education trends globally? How is it impacting the employment market?

The higher education sector is being transformed. Whether it be through digital transformation, increasing competition from universities globally as they seek to attract the best minds and talent, or the rapidly changing work environment that is demanding graduates who aren’t just book smart but have critical thinking skills.  

UQ is changing the way higher education is imagined and experienced. In 2016, UQ announced:

  • A five-year program of initiatives at the forefront of the learning revolution, designed to equip UQ graduates to be enterprising and to excel in the new-world workplace. 
  • Game-changing graduates: Expanded programs and support to enhance workplace integration and employability, on-campus idea accelerators, multi-disciplinary courses for creating change, and extended opportunities for global experiences and network building.
  • Student-centred flexibility: More flexible study options, new course options to complement advanced digital learning resources, personalised online learning tracking to provide real-time data and analytics on learning progress, and a move to a trimester system for some programs.
  • Dynamic people and partnerships: A partnership with students in learning and decision-making, a mentor program, a move toward increasing the engagement of students in our world-class research, a comprehensive professional development program for staff, investment in academic support through digital delivery tools and contemporary content design, and increased partnerships with industry.
  • An integrated learning environment: The development of the campus precinct; increased and enhanced student spaces for individual and group learning, rest and socialising; renewed IT infrastructure; an on-campus support hub; and an online support hub that offers 24/7 access.

UQ already holds a place among the world’s top 50 universities and our successful global profile is the result of forging strategic partnerships across industry, government, sponsorship, philanthropy, alumni, higher education and research. 

As the skills needed for students to be career-ready are constantly changing, universities and corporations are increasingly seeking out new partnerships to better prepare students for the 21st-century economy. By working more closely with the corporate sector, higher education institutions will continue to develop a deeper understanding of market needs, create more compatible course offerings, and better prepare graduates for success.

Where does India, currently, stand for the University of Queensland as a market?

UQ has identified India as a strategic country to engage with under the University’s Global Strategy (2018-2021). For sustainable growth and success, we aim to operate with an overarching, holistic and long-term strategy that aligns the University with the Indian government, academia and industry and supports Ph.D. and collaborative research with strategic partners. Our flagship strategic partnership with IITD will drive other activities in teaching and learning, research and research training with our partners to achieve long-term, mutually beneficial outcomes. 

What are you exploring with India during this visit?

The purpose of UQ's most recent visit to India was to build on our existing relationships in India, including meeting with IITD to identify additional areas for joint Ph.D. projects and research collaboration. Last year, UQ and IITD established a joint Academy of Research (UQIDAR), the first international joint Ph.D. program for IITD. UQIDAR will pave the way for students and academics to partner on projects addressing some of the most pressing issues affecting India, Australia, and global communities. During our visit, we will meet with the first cohort of students enrolled at the Academy in India, who will travel to UQ in January next year. 

In addition, we met with our enabling partners to discuss current articulation programs and the delivery of academic and/or research seminars to strengthen partnerships. Various student recruitment focused events were also held in New Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai to enable prospective Indian students interested in studying abroad to engage with UQ academics and professional staff.

Are there any exclusive scholarship opportunities for Indian students? If so, what will be the key benefits?

UQ offers competitive scholarships for high-achieving international students. Indian students are often eligible for many international scholarships offered.

India-specific Scholarships

  • Future Students Undergraduate Scholarship for High Achievers: Scholarship value $10,000 in reduction of tuition fees. Applications close 30 November 2019. 
  • Future Students Postgraduate Scholarship for High Achievers: Scholarship value $10,000 in reduction of tuition fees. Applications close 30 November 2019. 
  • The D.P. Singhal Visiting Scholarship: Scholarship value $6000, awarded every three years. 
  • UQ Sport Scholarship Ambassador Program: Scholarship value $1500 in support services per athlete, per year.  

What is the reason behind choosing India for UQ Info Day? Please tell us about the UQ Info Day.

In 2018 UQ Chancellor Mr Peter Varghese AO called for education to be a ‘flagship sector’ as Australia seeks to lift trade and investment ties with India. Mr Varghese, the former Australian High Commissioner to India, made the call in his An India Economic Strategy to 2035 report, released by the Australian Government in July. It contains 90 recommendations to transform Australia’s relationship with India and take the economic partnership to a new level.

“There is no market over the next 20 years that offers more growth opportunities for Australian business than India,” Mr Varghese said.

“Getting our India strategy right will both enhance the prosperity and security of Australians and help realise the aspirations of the 1.3 billion Indians who sense their time has come and a better life is within their grasp.”

Mr Varghese’s report says education should be the flagship sector "because of a combination of Australian expertise, the scale of India's education deficit and the way in which an education and training demand weaves its way through virtually every sector of the Indian economy".

India is currently Australia’s largest source of skilled migrants and there are attractive post-study work opportunities.

About UQ info day: Among our delegation to India were experts well-known in their respective fields who delivered masterclasses to prospective students and professional development seminars to high school counsellors and school leaders. Students from 14 high schools across India engaged with these experts through the Create Change Challenge, and had the opportunity to pitch their own ideas for Sustainable innovation for future cities. 

There were also a number of student recruitment focused events taking place in New Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai to enable prospective Indian students interested in studying abroad to engage with UQ academics and professional staff. 

Please throw some light on your vision for research and development activities at the university? Are you collaborating with any Indian universities for the same?

The UQ Strategic Plan (2018 – 2021) sets the direction for UQ as we pursue our vision of providing 'knowledge leadership for a better world'. UQ recognises that this period will be challenging as the University adapts to a rapidly changing environment. UQ is committed to remaining a comprehensive, research-intensive university, while emphasising the importance of collaboration, diversity and partnered innovation as a critical means of solving complex global challenges. One of the six focus areas will be on enhancing our high-quality research by improving our capacity to collaborate to achieve greater impact. Transforming our students into game-changing graduates will ensure that they are not only prepared to succeed in their chosen pathway but will also provide the leadership necessary to create change. 

In 2018, UQ signed a historic agreement partnering with the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD) to launch a joint Academy of Research (UQIDAR). UQIDAR will pave the way for students and academics to partner on projects addressing some of the most pressing issues affecting India, Australia, and global communities. Supported by generous scholarship opportunities, the Academy of Research encourages students from India and Australia to take advantage of each other’s world-class facilities and resources and to develop culturally diverse research networks. Open to all disciplines, the partnership will enable students to gain a global qualification from both IITD and UQ in four years.

In time, we hope prominent research institutes in and around New Delhi will join the Academy as an associate and industry partners, so we can continue to expand internationally relevant research in diverse areas such as medicine, economics, agriculture, and the humanities.

How will UQ help Indian students in broadening their horizons vis-à-vis entrepreneurship and research?

UQ supports entrepreneurs to generate and action ideas in response to identified needs and opportunities through UQ Ventures. Students, staff, and alumni have access to a suite of programs to build their skills in a hands-on environment. A wide range of events and activities are run across the year, and support is provided from idea generation through to market validation, and from launching a startup to scaling it up. By facilitating programs that increase soft skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, agile thinking and resiliency to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, students can increase their overall employability prospects. 

In 2018, UQ signed a historic agreement partnering with the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD) to launch a joint Academy of Research (UQIDAR). UQIDAR will pave the way for students and academics to partner on projects addressing some of the most pressing issues affecting India, Australia, and global communities. Supported by generous scholarship opportunities, the Academy of Research encourages students from India and Australia to take advantage of each other’s world-class facilities and resources and to develop culturally diverse research networks. Open to all disciplines, the partnership will enable students to gain a global qualification from both IITD and UQ in four years. 

How do you see the changes which have taken place in the Indian Education System? Any improve measure you would like to suggest?

India’s higher education landscape is large and complex, with over 760 universities that are run by various national public, state-owned, and privately owned and operated governing bodies. Indian universities, even elite institutions, do not feature in the top 100 universities in global rankings.

India and Australia have complementary strengths in higher education. Australia’s higher education market although very small in comparison boasts a very high-quality offering. While the country is home to only 39 universities, six of these institutions are ranked in the global top 100. Moreover, the system in Australia is highly regulated by the Australian Government in order to maintain high standards. The curriculum in Australia is very agile and constantly reviewed and updated to match ever-changing industry requirements. 

Australian universities, including UQ, have increased their engagement with India over the past decade, fostering partnerships in research, education initiatives, joint publications, and student-staff exchanges. Partnerships like UQIDAR seek to help close the disparity between countries through skills and knowledge exchange, helping to bolster the excellent work already being done in India’s quality institutions.

What is UQ’s vision for 2020 with respect to India?

The UQ Strategic Plan (2018-2021) sets the direction for UQ as we pursue our vision of providing 'knowledge leadership for a better world'. UQ recognises that this period will be challenging as the University adapts to a rapidly changing environment. UQ is commitment to remaining a comprehensive, research-intensive university, while emphasising the importance of collaboration, diversity and partnered innovation as a critical means of solving complex global challenges. The Strategic Plan has identified three long term objectives with six medium-term strategic focus areas. These include:

  • Transforming our student experience through a flexible, integrated and partnered learning environment 
  • Enhancing our high-quality research by improving our capacity to collaborate to achieve greater impact 
  • Building engaged and strategic partnerships with a broad range of local and global networks 
  • Committing to activities that attract, support and retain a diverse and inclusive community of high achieving staff and students 
  • Building an agile, responsive and efficient University operation 
  • Diversifying our income streams and managing our resources to establish a sustainable financial base 

Transforming our students into game-changing graduates will ensure that they are not only prepared to succeed in their chosen pathway but will also provide the leadership necessary to create change.

As the vice-chancellor, what are your goals for the coming years?

The UQ Strategic Plan (2018 –2021) sets the direction for UQ over the next three years as we pursue our vision of providing ‘knowledge leadership for a better world’. 

This plan encapsulates a commitment to remaining comprehensive while emphasising the importance of collaboration, diversity and partnered innovation as a critical means of solving complex global challenges. 

At UQ we will transform our students into game-changing graduates ensuring that they are not only prepared to succeed in their chosen pathway, but will also provide the leadership necessary to create change.



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