SENIOR Staff at Australia’s CQUniversity and the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (UniTech) are discussing potential linkages between the two bodies.

CQUniversity, formerly known as Central Queensland University, is currently in the process of setting up a campus in Cairns, which vice chancellor Paul Bowman told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was a logical base for joint activity between the two institutions.

“Obviously Cairns and PNG are very well linked, so it does make a lot of sense to reach out to PNG,” he said.

Professor Bowman was joined by CQUniversity’s provost Professor Hilary Winchester and deputy vice chancellor (industry, vocational training and access education) Nik Babovic, to meet with senior Unitech academic and administrative staff, including the chancellor and vice chancellor Albert Schram.

The two groups discussed the formation of mutually-beneficial linkages, and in particular the provision of capacity-building capability from CQUniversity to Unitech.

Some of the initiatives agreed upon include the CQUniversity mentoring and networking of senior leaders within Unitech (with a particular emphasis on female staff) and investigations into a potential accredited pilot program in logistics to commence by distance learning, with local support in Lae.

Other areas of institutional support being explored include human resources policy, academic and research policy, and quality assurance, management and leadership training, teaching systems, and student administrative processes.

The outcome of these discussions were also raised with various political and business leaders at the Australia – PNG Business Forum in Lae, including PNG Minister for Trade Richard Mula, Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb, and Advance Cairns chief executive Mark Matthews

Dr Bowman told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the ministers had a positive reaction to the plan.

“It was very initial discussions but they are very supportive. They both see that there are great opportunities if universities twin and really help each other,” he said.

“There are obviously some challenges in working on the ground in a country like PNG but there are also tremendous opportunities,” Professor Bowman said.

“We have a real chance to make a difference to the lives of ordinary Papua New Guineans, and to help them write the next chapter in their country’s exciting journey.”

However, he was adamant that this would not be just a one-way benefit to PNG.

“CQUniversity students, researchers and staff will also have access to opportunities happening right on our doorstep in one of the most remarkable countries in the world,” he said.

“I can see real value for both universities coming from this partnership.”