Want to use my learnings from cricket to guide Indian students in leadership Adam Gilchrist for University of Wollongong Australia 1

‘Want to Use My Learnings From Cricket to Guide Indian Students in Leadership’: Adam Gilchrist for University of Wollongong Australia

The University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia today unveiled its UOW India identity at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), Gandhinagar. With this, the Australian university has become one of the first foreign universities to have an International Branch Campus (IBC) in India.

Indianexpress.com talks to UOW’s global brand ambassador and renowned cricketer Adam Gilchrist as well as the Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Patricia M Davidson about the new campus which is set to offer Australian degrees to Indian students.

Patricia: We will start advertising for students at the end of 2023, with the hope to begin the academic programmes in June 2024. We are starting out by taking a small floor from an existing building. So it’s being fitted out with the option to expand and grow in that building. Other than that, our plans for campus building are still in progress and on time.

The programme that we are going to start with is a Master’s of digital finance and also the option to do a deployment programme. We are building a suite of programmes that are around business. So that ranges from accounting, business administration, and more. Also, one of the areas that we are keen to explore is the digital aspects of finance, as we know Fintech is the new buzzword and there are many issues in cybersecurity.

Q. Will Indian students still need IELTS or TOEFL?

Patricia: The admission criteria and requirements will be the same as Australian campuses as the degrees will be awarded as per TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency) guidelines. However, I urge students to not get discouraged by low TOEFL/ IELTS scores as there are many pathways which can be adopted for this.

Also, we have immersion programmes that help students get better at conversation skills. There are actually no courses from a textbook and people are trained to speak in the real world. So we’ll be looking to make sure that students have those core competencies. But I also think, we really want students to know that they’re being accepted with exactly the same standards that would be expected if they came to Australia.

Another thing to remember is that our admission policy will have a holistic approach. For example, some people may find that they might not have formally done finance in their undergraduate programme, but working in a bank or similar area might benefit them. I always tell students to ask questions before applying and see what happens.

Q. Will students who enroll at the Indian campus get a chance to go to the Australian campuses?

Patricia: Students who enroll at the University of Wollongong in India will have the opportunity to transfer between any of our campuses, particularly when the subjects align. We have a vibrant campus in Dubai as well, which provides different opportunities too. So, it depends on what the student’s career aspirations are.

Many students who are looking to work in the global finance sector, might find that going to Dubai for six months may set up networks. But then we’re really conscious of tailoring targeting programmes to individual students’ needs. So the other thing is many students want to come to Australia for work rights, and there’s also the potential for a migration pathway where maybe students do two years here in India, and then come to Australia to enable them to get post study work rights. We are committed to making sure that students get the programme that is going to best fit their life and study aspirations.

When it comes to their working rights in Australia, I think it’s going to be one of those issues that will come up as part of the Australia-India free trade agreement.

Also, there will be many students from the Australian campus who might wish to come to the Indian campus, specifically due to the vibrant environment of the GIFT City, the people of India and also to experience the culture and food.

Q. Since Adam Gilchrist is actively involved in the Indian campus of the University of Wollongong, will the varsity soon set up sports-related courses here?

Patricia: We offer sports strategy and sports management courses. Even in our law school, many of us have spoken to two or three students who expressed interest in specialising in contract negotiation for sports.

It’s a big industry and there are many opportunities, but it is essential to start with foundation courses and have the correct infrastructure systems or processes to start.

Q. Can you please tell us a bit about the Vice Chancellor’s leadership scholarship that has been offered to an Indian student?

Adam: We announced the Vice Chancellor’s leadership scholarships for a student here in India who’s going to come and study on our Australian campus. I was fortunate enough last year to get involved with the student body and with the 12 scholarship holders recipients. I sat down with them around a table for a significant amount of time talking about leadership. This year, a 17 -year-old Chaitanya Vishwajit Ambike from Bengaluru is the recipient of this scholarship and will be studying Bachelor of Mathematics Advanced at UOW, commencing in February 2024.

Part of this scholarship programme is obviously they are talented, gifted young men and women, but it’s also about growing more than just the skills that they possess or that they learned from their course, and how they might move into our communities in leadership positions. I have had the opportunity to take learnings of my journey and pass those on to the students, even without me being an expert in their field of endeavour.

Even in India, once we set up here and get functioning, even though I am not an expert in FinTech or financial services, I think there are a lot of parallels and crossovers between sports and business, and life in general, around leadership where I think I will be able to help.

Patricia: Additionally, now that we have set up the basic infrastructure, we are now going out to look for additional scholarship opportunities. We are interested in diversity, equity and inclusion. So we would love to be able to focus on gender diversity.

We are also looking at opportunities for providing PhD scholarships for students. In our Dubai branch, there’s a particular focus on women in businesses. Since I have met some remarkable women in India, who I think would be amazing role models for women in business, we will also look for opportunities to have scholarships affiliated with UN Women.

Q. How will the tuition fee be decided for the Indian campus?

Patricia: We are committed to keeping the tuition fee half of what international students pay in Australia. We have just started to talk about in our preliminary meetings in the GIFT city the possibility of partnering with some of the financial institutions in India who can provide reasonable loans to students. We want to make sure that people are borrowing from credible lenders with reasonable payback terms.

Q. Will the University of Wollongong provide a placement cell for the Indian campus?

Patricia: We are definitely partnering with institutions here in the city. But as I mentioned, we have students going all over the world. They might want to work in global finance for six months in Dubai or in Sydney. So all of those options will be available.

I think now all universities are trying to look at maximising students’ choices and options. We learned that one size doesn’t fit all, and we also would likely try and produce options that will be attractive for students.

Q. Why are more foreign universities turning towards India now, what makes India a promising market to set up base?

Adam: We as a university have been coming to India for at least 16 years. We have been looking at a whole lot of exploring, a lot of different touchpoints from research partnerships with like-minded research organisations, and even looking into industry and partnering with our areas of interest and expertise.

Yes, there’s been student crossover, that has happened obviously to the point where now Indian students are the largest part of our international cohort. This trip has been beneficial because we are ensuring that we lay down the foundation and be here for the long term.

Even in the Indian Premier League (IPL), there were players from different nationalities within my team and I had to coordinate and bring everyone together. And what I saw was a lot of common touch points around the cultural appreciation, and importance of history within each country.

In Australia, we are still developing and improving acknowledgement of our heritage that goes way back before the colonial migration, indigenous heritage and I think there’s a similar passion to acknowledge culture and history here in India. So there are a number of similarities that I have seen all through my journey, be it as a cricketer or while helping promote and foster educational relationships. There has also been an increase in the bilateral government relationship.

Q. Indian students in Australia are facing a housing and job crisis. Do you think the installation of the campus here will now discourage Indian students from travelling to Australia amid these reports?

Patricia: Following Covid, there has been a national housing shortage and there are reports stating that the most common group of homeless are now young people rather than older men. I think that’s a real problem that the government is working to address.

For our students, we have an on-campus pantry where our students can get food. And also we’re working hard to make sure that students are safer in their jobs. A lot of international students in Australia have been working as part of the gig economy, and the current government is trying to change the situation. Inflation all around the world is higher and that’s one of the reasons why we really want to look at loans so that students can be able to afford tuition and other things. It is one thing to be able to afford tuition, and another to be able to afford to live, and that is high on our agenda.

Depending on an individual’s circumstances, many students might decide that they can get an international education in India and therefore, they don’t need to travel. But there are many who are keen to go abroad for the experience. We are particularly concerned about students falling victim to rogue agents. For this, we have done a lot of work to strengthen our control of agent networks.

Courtesy : The Indian Express

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