Networking vendor Huawei has contributed $250,000 to training facilities at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) as part of its memorandum of understanding with the Victorian university.
The partnership, initially announced in July, is expected to see 500 RMIT students trained in long term evolution, gigabit passive optical network and other next-generation networking technologies over three years. The partnership is hoped to remedy potential technical skills shortages brought about as a result of the National Broadband Network and increasing moves to new mobile wireless technologies.
Huawei is also expected to use the centre as a ripe hiring ground for future staff, and as a means of training communication with customers.
RMIT vice-chancellor and president, Professor Margaret Gardner, indicated the partnership would be used to strengthen links with Chinese academia, traditionally a strong but recently waning source of international students for Australian tertiary education institutions.
“RMIT’s collaboration with industry is integral to its leadership in applied research and education, and to the development of work-ready, highly skilled and globally focused graduates,” Gardner said in a statement.
Estimated declines in international students studying in Australia of between 70 and 80 per cent have remained a key issue across Australian universities, and inherently local technical skills, with Monash University in particular flagging significant job cuts as a result of waning revenues.
Deputy director-general of the NSW Department of Industry and Investment, Barry Buffier, recently told attendees at an Australian Information Industry Association event the state government had plans in place to remedy the situation, but could not guarantee immediate changes to student numbers.
“The Premier has established a council on international education... we’re well aware of that huge decline,” he said.
“We’ve just finalised some market research in India and China - we did about 20 focus groups in India so we think we’ve got a relatively good handle on some of those issues and how to address them.”
Buffier said that while security and safety weren’t key concerns in China - as they are currently are in India - some marketing was still needed there to encourage interest in Australia as an education space.
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