Improving access to tertiary education in the Pacific
FRI 31 AUGUST 2012
Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs
Young people in the Pacific will be given the opportunity to develop new skills and gain regionally and internationally recognised tertiary qualifications, under an initiative announced today.
Australia will provide $85 million over the next four years to improve access to tertiary education in the Pacific.
This funding will initially focus on improving the quality of tertiary courses in engineering, construction, maritime transport, education and health.
Through this initiative Australia will fund pre-tertiary bridging courses for early school leavers, helping them to further their skills.
Australia will also support 2300 Pacific island students to graduate from tertiary courses with the skills needed to improve their employment prospects and provide employers with the workforce they require. At least half of these places will be reserved for female students.
This support will help build the workforce that Pacific employers need to boost productivity and innovation.
Australia will also upgrade research and teaching facilities for students and teachers at the University of the South Pacific, across its 14 campuses. A Pacific Research and Education network will be established to lift the Pacific tertiary sector into the digital age and help Pacific tertiary institutions overcome geographic and communication limitations.
Many Pacific tertiary institutions struggle to provide basic email, internet and online research support to their staff or students. This inhibits good teaching, learning and research, and makes it difficult to attract international staff.
Through this initiative, at least 30 Pacific tertiary institutions across eight countries will be connected to international research and education networks, and each other.