August 2, 2013: - James Cook University is well positioned to play a key role in supporting the Australian Government’s pledge to help reform Papua New Guinea’s university sector.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has committed the Australian Government to support reform of PNG’s University Sector as part of the arrangements between the two governments relating to the resettlement of refugees.
“The University welcomes the Australian Government's commitment to the university system in PNG,” Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Sally Kift said.
“With JCU’s long-standing relationships with tertiary institutions in PNG and the connections that already exist between Cairns, Townsville and our nearest neighbour this is a wonderful opportunity that will help transform lives for the better.”
Professor Kift said that the next step to a successful outcome would be to bring PNG universities and JCU together with Australian and PNG Government officials to finalise a plan to support reform of the PNG University system and support the establishment of a PNG North Queensland Education Cluster.
“JCU certainly has the expertise to assist PNG Universities improve the quality and range of their education programs,” Professor Kift said.
“The Cairns Institute at JCU and the PNG Office of Higher Education are already developing a framework for a PNG Northern Queensland Education Cluster.”
She said that the cluster will build on existing strong education links between PNG and northern Queensland including:
JCU’s partnerships with the University of Papua New Guinea;
the Health Management Twinning Program with the PNG National Catholic University Divine Word; and
the Professional Development Training program with the PNG Department of Justice and Attorney General.
“The PNG University of Technology and JCU have already agreed to begin the process of supporting Unitech’s engineering departments become accredited to lift engineering standards and meet the growing demands for engineers within the PNG resources sector,” Professor Kift said.
“And we have the knowledge, experience and skills to train PNG public sector staff to improve governance and provide professional development in key professions including education, health and justice.”
The PNG North Queensland cluster is supported by the close proximity and existing ties, particularly between Cairns and PNG, with daily return flights.
Townsville has a sister city relationship with Port Moresby while Cairns has similar connections with Lae and the strong PNG community living in northern Queensland maintain important cultural and family ties with their country.
JCU Media: Jim O’Brien 07 4781 4822 or 0418 892449
Media Liaison, The Cairns Institute: Gavin Broomhead 0435 077 935
Issued: August 2, 2013