Toktok Bilong Strongim Nesen

The Future of Universities: Knowledge Leaders in Policy Development and Industry Innovation

Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor Andrew Egan with panellists Jane Ravusiro, Professor Peter Høj and Professor Frank Griffin.

The event explored the important role that universities play preparing the workforce of the future and in building a nation. Hosted by The University of PNG (UPNG), the audience enjoyed a robust discussion on the topic ‘Innovators and Educators: Opportunities and Challenges for Modern Universities’. Guest speaker Professor Peter Høj, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Queensland (UQ) was joined by Professor Frank Griffin, Vice-Chancellor of UPNG.

Professor Høj said that through robust, rigorous and timely research and sustained policy engagement, universities can be a key source of ideas and insights on the policy priorities that impact on PNG and neighbouring nations in the Pacific region.

“Universities should provide knowledge leadership. In fact, the vision for the University of Queensland (UQ) is ‘Knowledge Leadership for a Better World,” he said.

Professor Peter Høj answers a question from the audience.

At UQ, we have a Centre for Policy Futures, which works closely with governments, international organisations, and key stakeholders to pursue a vibrant research program focused on independent and peer-reviewed research, as well as commissioned reports, discussion papers, and policy briefs,” said Professor Høj.

“There are opportunities for PNG universities to serve a similar role, to engage in public policy debate, and to challenge and influence the development of public policy in health and education.

Professor Frank Griffin, agreed with this vision, stating “Our university should be a hub of knowledge – a think tank utilised for drafting and designing policies with academics who are leading their respective fields.

These experts have a unique insight in how certain policies should be designed, and in that regard UPNG can be a useful member of society in terms of assisting the government with policy development.”

Professor Høj emphasised the need for innovators to partner with industry, government and the community to “ensure we meet societal needs and their most pressing challenges.”

Professor Griffin reiterated the value of partnerships and outlined the exciting work that UPNG is undertaking with the resources sector and other private industry partners to ensure that UPNG is meeting the skill demands of industry now and in the future.

A UPNG student asks a question on disability access at universities.

Professor Høj discussed the potential of universities to embrace opportunities to partner with government agencies directly to improve leadership capacity and policy development.

“Consideration of current capacity gaps, succession planning and the implications of an ageing workforce – are areas where a program can have the most impact – delivering skills-based training and peer-to-peer learning, academic coursework and other methods to increase the cadre of ethical and skilled professionals in leadership roles in the PNG public sector,” he said.

The Toktok Bilong Strongim Nesen series of public discussions explore themes and policy issues relevant to Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

Supported by the PNG-Australia Partnership, the series follows on from last year’s popular APEC Discussion Series at the Precinct, which was attended by more than 3,500 people and broadcast on television and radio to a potential audience of four million people.