Deakin University to start PG courses in cyber security, business analytics
As the first foreign university to set up a campus in India at the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in GIFT City, Gandhinagar, Australia’s Deakin University will offer two post graduate (PG) programs to begin with.
Keeping in mind the location of its international branch campus (IBC) and the evolving digital economy around the world, the Deakin University will initially offer two PG courses, in cyber security and business analytics with the target of starting campus operations by mid-2024.
“It gives me great pleasure to announce that Deakin University will be the first overseas university approved to establish a branch campus in India ever. It is a great honour for Deakin University but it won’t be the last Australian university,” said Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese MP during an Australia-India education relationship event here on Wednesday.
Apart from the post graduate programs, Deakin University’s campus operations at GIFT City will also include digital services, partnership engagement and research.
“The vision of the campus is to serve the needs of the digital economy. We are going to focus on post graduate programs because the kind of environment there at GIFTCity is best suited for that. And the first two programs will be around professional cyber security and business analytics. We will grow into other business and data related degrees and other areas that speak to the digital economy which touches so much of our lives now,” Professor Iain Martin, Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University told Business Standard on the sidelines of the event.
According to Martin, the initial campus size is going to be about 25,000 sq ft which will gradually evolve.
“We are starting with an intake of 60 students for each of the two programs in the first year but growing that to 100-120 students in each program and then growing the number of programs eventually. We don’t have a fixed size in the long run. We would like to see a number of thousands of students in the long run. But in the short run it is most important that we deliver quality,” said Martin.
Talking further about Deakin University’s IBC in GIFT IFSC, Martin said that the location will have the advantage of being surrounded by high quality global financial and insurance firms where its focus on the digital economy related courses is relevant.
“The regulations (of IFSCA) enable us to operate as an Australian branch campus with oversight by our own regulator Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) in Australia. They enable us to operate with a degree of financial freedom that enables us to build and develop. It enables us to operate in a high quality environment. It is great for our students because there are some really good firms there in GIFT City providing employment opportunities. If they are being educated at GIFT City there is a really good chance of career opportunities,” Martin added.
According to Martin, while the primary aim of Deakin’s IBC will be to educate Indian students locally, in the medium term, the varsity expects Australian students also to come and study from GIFT City. “This is because what we have deliberately set out to do is to make this a campus of Deakin University and not a standalone entity. So the teaching trimesters will be the same and the programs will be the same. So we are hoping that a student would come here and do one trimester here or an Indian student would go to Australia and do one trimester there,” he added.
In terms of faculty, about 80 per cent of them will be engaged in India while about 20 per cent will be staff who will come from Australia. “But in the model we are operating, the Indian engaged faculty will be supported to come to Australia once every 12-18 months so that they have a chance to learn from what is happening in Australia but also for their Australian colleagues to learn from what is happening in GIFT City,” Martin told Business Standard.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Albanese also announced that along with Deakin, the University of Wollongong also has intentions to establish a campus at GIFT City.
“We have finalized the Australia India Education Qualification Recognition Mechanism. This new mechanism means that if you are an Indian student who is studying or about to study in Australia your hard-earned degree will be recognized when you return home… I really hope that at the GIFT City campus, we don’t just see Indian students studying there but also Australian students from Deakin coming in and partaking in some of the courses there as well. That would make an enormous difference,” Albanese added.
The Union Education Minister and Union Finance Minister of India had included allowing foreign universities to set up campuses in India in the Union Budget announcement made in February 2022. The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) further came out with a comprehensive International Branch Campus Regulations. Recently, Deakin University became the first such foreign university to get the in-principle approval by IFSCA in March 2023.
Earlier, IFSCA chairperson Injeti Srinivas had stated that the move will not only make GIFT IFSC a world class education within India but also be a huge value proposition in terms of reduced costs for students with greater international employment opportunities. This will also lead to greater internationalization of GIFT IFSC by attracting students from all parts of the World.
“The establishment of the world’s first international branch campus in GIFT City by Deakin University will open new vistas for aspiring students as well as for world class educational institutions to operate from Indian soil. This will enable students to access best in class education right in their home country,” said Tapan Ray, Managing Director and Group CEO, GIFT City.