Deakin University shows how long-term investment in India pays dividends

January 2020

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Deakin University’s partnership with IIT Madras highlights how a multi-faceted approach to the market yields positive results.

Australia’s Deakin University is a digitally focused institution that ranks in the top 1 per cent of universities globally. It holds a 5 star QS rating and conducts world-class research. For 10 years, its undergraduate students have reported being the most satisfied students of all universities in Victoria.

Innovation in materials

Deakin recently collaborated with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras to establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in advanced materials and manufacturing. It is the first bilateral CoE to have been created between the Chennai-based institute and an overseas institution.

The new CoE will undertake research and development in advanced materials such as high entropy alloys, light alloys and composites, and functional and nano materials. It is also focused on manufacturing and human capital advances in related areas.

‘The Centre of Excellence will drive knowledge and information sharing, and be a step towards more sustainable manufacturing,’ says Ravneet Pawha, Deputy Vice President & CEO (South Asia), Deakin University.

One significant feature of the new CoE sees strong links with leading corporates active in the space. Automotive sector leaders in particular benefit from innovation in advanced materials, and a project that looks specifically at “light weighting” is under consideration. An initiative considering the application of artificial intelligence to new lightweight brake pads is also underway.

An evolution in education marketing

Deakin is not new to India. The university has been active in the market for more than 25 years, having established an office in 1994. Today, India is Australia’s second largest source of international students and Deakin has seen enrolments from India grow almost seven-fold since 2012.

The university is perhaps best known among prospective students in India for its novel approach to attracting enrolments and interest in its courses. The Deakin Vice Chancellor Meritorious Scholarships program is an annual contest broadcast across India on the Time Now television network for four students to win tuition-free enrolment at Deakin. The contest exposes the Australian education experience to the largest tertiary-age population in the world.

Deakin has also used sports scholarships to great effect with a multi-year tie-up with the Rajasthan Royals, an IPL cricket team captained by Australian Steve “Smudge” Smith. As the official sports education partner for the team, Deakin offers a “mega scholarship” for an Indian student to study sports management at its Melbourne campus.

Looking ahead to the future

Austrade has been actively supporting the Australian university sector’s outreach initiatives in India. Austrade’s network across India and the region is focused on targeted work in research, executive education and study collaborations. Deakin has participated in a number of Austrade initiatives over many years, including briefings and industry events, as part of its market development.

South Asia and India in particular represents the key growth market globally for Australia’s education services exports. India is one of the world’s fastest growing large economies and has more tertiary-age people than any other country in the world. Furthermore, there is increasing interest in and awareness of Australia’s quality education on offer among the rising middle class in India. With a clear path to global jobs, further education gained in Australian universities is increasingly valued by this audience.

Deakin University has long understood the scale of opportunity presented by a changing India. The university enjoys extremely high levels of awareness among prospective Indian students and their families.

The collaboration with IIT Madras goes well beyond traditional student recruitment. It shows how a consistent, long-term approach to a significant market can help build deep brand value. In terms of positioning Deakin for future success in India, the prospects look positive.

About Austrade

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission – Austrade – contributes to Australia's economic prosperity by helping Australian businesses, education institutions, tourism operators, governments and citizens as they:

  • develop international markets
  • win productive foreign direct investment
  • promote international education
  • strengthen Australia's tourism industry
  • seek consular and passport services.


Whereas every effort has been made to ensure the information given in this document is accurate, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission does not provide warranty or accept liability for any loss arising from reliance on such information.

©Commonwealth of Australia 2020