UQ and Oceania

From good neighbours to strategic partners

UQ and the diverse countries of the Oceania region share longstanding and multifaceted relations. As our closest international neighbours, our growing people-to-people links are helping strengthen economic, governance, health and social systems. Our collaborative efforts also contribute to understanding one of the most biodiverse regions of the world, and protecting the oceans, crops, and animals that its communities rely on.

Fast facts

Excludes Australia.


Students from Oceania enrolled at UQ


Oceania-UQ co-publications


academic staff born in Oceania


research project collaborations


alumni in Oceania


agreements with 6 official partners

Fast facts show full-year 2020 data.



In the past 5 years, UQ has produced more than 1687 co-publications with researchers in Oceania, largely in the areas of public health, ecology, and medicine. Co-publishing partners include the University of Auckland, University of Otago, University of Canterbury, Massey University, and the University of the South Pacific.

Research collaborations

In the past 5 years, UQ has collaborated with 31 Oceanic institutions on 71 research projects, covering topics such as helping people to quit smoking, interventions and services for children with cerebral palsy, and enhancing tropical agriculture. Key collaborators include the University of AucklandUniversity of Otago, and Auckland Hospital.

Research funding

24 Oceanic organisations, including Fonterra (New Zealand), Barrick (Niugini) Limited (PNG) and the Kokonas Indastri Koporesen (PNG), have contributed more than A$2.9 million towards 30 research projects in the past 5 years. Projects investigate a range of topics including preventing gender-based violence, improving dairy production, and community-based climate change adaptation.

Collaboration in action

Pacific marketplaces critical for women, development and resilience

UQ researchers have been working in collaboration with UN Women in Vanuatu to explore the role of marketplaces in addressing pressing challenges such as poverty, climate change and disasters. Marketplaces have inherent strengths that can be built upon and utilised to foster positive outcomes across the development-adaptation-disaster trifecta. As spaces where women are central, marketplaces are also important sites to further develop the capabilities of, and empower, women. Our work highlighted that we first need to acknowledge and utilise women’s extensive knowledge, social networks and skills when it comes to resilience-building, but that we then also need to support women to further develop their capabilities and address underlying vulnerabilities.


Strengthening UQ’s links to the Pacific

UQ International Development and UQ Business School have collaborated on a customised leadership and management training program for fisheries leaders in the Pacific, together with Pacific Community, Forum Fisheries Agency and the Centre for Adaptive Leadership (funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade). Fisheries remain the most important ocean resource for livelihoods, employment and economic growth as well as a critical source of protein in the Pacific. Well-managed and sustainable fisheries, and aquaculture increases economic and food security. Participants of the program are eligible to receive credit towards selected pathways from the Business School’s suite of postgraduate programs.

Uneasy waters in the Solomon Islands

Environmental Scientist, Dr Simon Albert, and team conducted research into the impact of sea-level rise on communities across Melanesia as an early indicator of their devastating potential for the rest of the world. The first scientific evidence, published in Environmental Research Letters, now confirms island scale impacts of sea-level rises in the area. The compromised islands, which have experienced annual rates of sea-level rise of 7–10mm once supported dense tropical vegetation that was at least 300 years old. In addition to these coastal impacts, the research team has also worked closely with local communities to understand human responses and adaptations to sea-level rise.

Parenting program reaches Māori community

A culturally adapted parenting program for Māori families has increased parents’ confidence, reduced conflict between partners, and improved children’s behaviour. The results followed the participation of Māori families in the Te Whānau Pou Toru program, adapted from the UQ-developed Triple P – Positive Parenting Program. The New Zealand Ministry of Health-funded study was conducted by the University of Auckland and the Ngāti Hine Health Trust, one of the largest Māori health providers in the country. Te Whānau Pou Toru encouraged families to share ideas about whānau (extended family) and how they interact with their children. University researchers and members of the Trust are now asking the government to make the program widely available.

Supporting the rule of law in Papua New Guinea

The UQ Pro Bono Centre has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the PNG National and Supreme Courts to support the work of the PNG judiciary and registry staff. Since 2016, UQ law students have produced 12 legal research papers in the areas of human rights law, constitutional and administrative law, amongst others. UQ law students, under the careful supervision of academic staff, make valuable contributions to supporting the rule of law in PNG through their commitment to pro bono work. In turn, institutional capacity and local knowledge of PNG law and legal systems are leveraged as student research is made accessible to members of the PNG judiciary and private practitioners alike.

Longline fishing taking a bite out of shark migration

Commercial longline fishing around the world is having a significant impact on migrating shark populations, according to an international study featuring UQ researcher Dr Bonnie Holmes. Researchers are concerned that tiger sharks in the Oceania region are at a moderate-to-high risk from longline fleets for at least six months of the year. Dr Holmes wanted to find out why shark numbers have been declining significantly over the past 20 years. “We’re losing these incredible creatures, and we know so little about shark movements and what drives them,” she said. The international team, comprised of 150 scientists from 25 countries, collated the migratory tracks of more than 1600 sharks from a range of species, and examined their movements at a global level.

Training the next generation of mining leaders

UQ and PNG University of Technology (UNITECH) Vice-Chancellors met in Port Moresby in August 2019 to sign an agreement to support sustainable development outcomes across the country’s resources sector. The partnership between UQ and UNITECH is supported by Newcrest Mining and the Australian Government. It builds on previous collaboration in mineral processing education, as well as a history of joint involvement in agricultural and animal science research. The first academic delegation from UNITECH’s Department of Mining Engineering arrived in September 2019, and was hosted by UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute.


Students from Oceania at UQ

In the past 5 years, more than 690 students from Oceania have been enrolled in UQ degrees (excluding Australians). PhD studies, the Graduate Certificate in Governance and Public Policy, Graduate Certificate in International RelationsBachelor of Engineering (Honours), and Medicine are popular program choices.

Student societies at UQ provide great opportunities to share interests and build community. They include the South Pacific Islander Association and a wide range of faith groups.

Video: Dannicah Chen, from Samoa, recently graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce. She was chosen as a Brisbane International Student Ambassador in 2015.

Celebrating the cultures of Oceania

Audio: Bucketlist: What do you know about the Solomon Islands? Senior Curator Dr Diana Young speaks to ABC Radio Adelaide about the stories behind the UQ Anthropology Museum's collection.

The UQ Anthropology Museum is home to a significant collection of Pacific art and artefacts. It has held exhibitions on the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, including the first museum exhibition of Lihir culture (PNG) anywhere in the world. Emeritus Professor Clive Moore was awarded a Cross of Solomon Islands for his historical work on Malaita Island, while Honorary Associate Professor Annie Ross has worked in Marovo Lagoon for over a decade, documenting local cultural traditions and stories from the past and the present that link local people to their land and sea heritage. UQ also offers many courses focusing on the Asia-Pacific, including Archaeology of the Pacific Islands, Australia Pacific Indigenous Arts, and South Pacific Comparative Law.

Student mobility

Intensive language and cultural course

In 2017, the School of Languages and Cultures offered the inaugural New Caledonia Intensive Course, which aims to facilitate understanding of French Pacific and Kanak cultures while helping students increase their language proficiency. Based in Noumea, the course included a homestay with a francophone family and excursions to Kanak communities. The course can be counted towards a French major.

New Colombo Mobility Plan

The New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program has supported several UQ undergraduate students to undertake semester-based study in the Indo Pacific. In 2017, Caitlin Gordon-King (Bachelor of Communication/Bachelor of Arts) studied at the University of South Pacific (USP), in Suva, Fiji, while also interning at United Nations Women. Patrick Walsh (Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts) studied at USP in 2016 and went on to do an internship in India.

New Zealand field trip

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences runs a two-week field trip to a convergent plant margin in New Zealand's North Island, and a transform plate boundary in the South Island. Undergraduate students are given the opportunity to witness how tectonic processes influence geomorphology, and how these landscapes continue to evolve.


UQ has more than 1,240 alumni in Oceania (excluding Australia). Alumni with strong links to the region include:

Papua New Guinea

Minister for Finance and Rural Development, Papua New Guinea (Bachelor of Economics, 1989)
Papua New Guinea

Former High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea (Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science 1974) (Served in PNG from 2 December 2005 to 25 February 2020).

President of Kiribati (Master of Economic Studies 2002)

Legal scholar and Executive Director of the Samoa Law Reform Commission (PhD, 2013)
Solomon Islands

Deputy Director-General at Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, Solomon Islands (Bachelor of Applied Science 1998). Moved back to Australia in April 2019 as the new CEO of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) for the next five years.

Leader of the National Federation Party, Shadow Minister for Finance, Planning and National Statistics, Fiji (PhD 1998)
Papua New Guinea

Director of the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (PhD Applied Economics 2013)

Australia Awards alumnus (Master of IT Management, 2015)
Papua New Guinea

Former Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Papua New Guinea (Masters of Agribusiness 2002)

Commissioner of Police & Superintendent of Prison at Kiribati Police and Prison Service (Master of Philosophy 2004)
Papua New Guinea

Deputy Head of Mission to Papua New Guinea (Bachelor of Arts 1989)

Summer and Winter Olympian for Taekwondo and cross-country skiing representing Tonga (Bachelor of Engineering 2007)
Robati Harrison

350 Pacific Brisbane Assistant Coordinator. Former President of UQ South Pacific Islander Association (Bachelor of Science – Biomedical Science 2019).