UNE’s online education expertise opens up opportunities in India

Published 23 September 2019

The University of New England’s (UNE’s) decades of experience in online education is opening doors in the rapidly growing Indian economy to meet an insatiable demand for specialised skills training.

UNE is the recipient of one of just 11 grants awarded from 166 applications by the Australia-India Council (AIC) to promote stronger links between the two countries.

UNE received $62,339 to train hospital managers for India’s health industry - a project that will deliver benefits in both countries.

The project will be led by Professor Debra Dunstan, Head of the School of Psychology, who has previously won awards for her work in original curriculum design and teaching.

“Our main objective is to provide a training program specifically for the Indian context, but also to raise awareness of the value of online education, and to develop a model for ongoing in-country education support,” Prof. Dunstan said.

“Online education is in its infancy in India but holds great potential to open up training opportunities to more candidates. It is important that we demonstrate to our stakeholders that authentic, job-relevant learning can reliably be delivered online.

“Our track record for in-country excellence is well established. UNE has over 30 years’ experience in delivering quality in-country development in conjunction with peak professional bodies and industry in the Maldives, the United Kingdom, Nauru, Bhutan, Japan, South America and Indonesia to name but a few.”

It is expected that the project will deliver content that can be applied to train administrators across all three tiers of India’s health sector - large metropolitan hospitals, smaller regional institutions with between 50 and 100 beds, and community centres mostly based in rural areas.

Once developed, the insights gained from the project will also be used to improve and diversify the content of UNE’s postgraduate degrees in health management, as well as form the basis of short courses.

To deliver the project in country, Prof. Dunstan has teamed up with Mumbai-based social enterprise, Beyond Borders Learning Programs (BBLP).

“India’s health sector has been growing exponentially and having skilled hospital managers, across all its tiers, is crucial to support this growth,” Prof. Dunstan said.

“Beyond Borders has over a decade’s experience in delivering experiential learning programs in various fields, including health services. I’m very excited about this collaboration and the potential it holds to empower participants.”

BBLP Chief Executive Officer, Arunabha (Aaron) Pal, who first met Prof. Dunstan in 2016 when she participated in one of their study abroad programs, said the project will also address recommendations outlined in the current India Economic Strategy (IES) for both the health and education sectors.

“The IES has identified online education as crucial to meeting Indian training needs. There is also an acknowledged shortage of key skills in health management. The need for well-trained hospital managers is increasingly important and we have to look beyond traditional training methods to keep up with sector demands,” Mr. Pal said.

”The objective of Beyond Borders is to create innovative and sustainable cross-border Industry-Academia-Government partnerships within the Asia-Pacific and further the United Nations agenda of Partnerships for the Goals. The AIC Grant and the UNE initiative is pioneering the creation of such symbiotic and equitable long-term social and economic partnerships and Beyond Borders is honored to play an important role in this project.”

The AIC supports projects that establish new, innovative and dynamic linkages; overcome existing identified problems; or leverage major events to grow relations between Australia and India and is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Link to media release on the announcement: https://foreignminister.gov.au/releases/Pages/2019/mp_mr_190918.aspx

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