Oceania comprises the region between southeast Asia and the Americas, and includes Australia, New Zealand and other islands in the south Pacific. It is the smallest continental region, with only 36 million residents in its 3 million square miles of land. Despite its small size, Oceania is home to several prestigious colleges and universities. There are 79 universities in Australia and New Zealand alone.
In this article, TheBestSchools.org attempts to identify the best university in each country of Oceania. The largest university in the region is Australia’s University of Melbourne, which was founded in 1853 by Victorian Parliament. It is the second oldest university in the country and boasts 22 faculties within 11 academic units. The University of Melbourne enrolls nearly 47,000 students from 130 countries.
Although much smaller in size and population, Fiji is home to the remarkable University of the South Pacific. The structure of this university is only found in one other institution in the world. Twelve countries jointly own this public research institution. Each country maintains a campus location, with the main campus in Laucala, Fiji.
AustraliaThe University of Melbourne
With an area of over 2.9 million square miles, Australia is the sixth largest country in the world. This Oceania continent is comprised of the mainland of Australia and several smaller islands. Since the European discovery of the land in 1606 the population has steadily increased to the current 24 million. A relatively stable liberal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarch has been maintained.
The University of Melbourne was founded in 1853 by Victorian Parliament making it the second oldest in the country after the University of Sydney. There are 22 faculties within 11 academic units which offer 10 undergraduate degrees and 270 graduate courses. Approximately 47,000 students are enrolled with nearly 12,000 international students representing 130 countries.
Melbourne is known as the top research university in Australia with $850 million in annual expenditures. One point of pride is the 1970 ground breaking research leading to one of the first successful cochlear implants. There are 10 discipline-specific facilities of research maintained on campus. A total of eight Nobel Laureates are associated with the University.
Notable Alumni: The University of Melbourne has produced many notable alumni, with graduates having held the offices of Governor-General, Governor of Victoria, Prime Ministers of Australia, Justices of the High, Federal, Family and Victorian Supreme courts, Premiers of Victoria and elected leaders of other states and territories, Nobel Laureates, etc.
Well known for its tourism industry, Fiji is an island county in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean. Comprising a total land area of 7,100 square miles, Fiji has over 330 islands with a population of 858,000 citizens. Though relatively small in size when compared to other countries, Fiji contains one of the most well developed economies in the Pacific due to a rich abundance of forest, mineral, and fish resources.
The University of the South Pacific is truly unique in its management and is one of only two of its kind in the world. Established in 1968, there are 12 countries which jointly own this public research institution. Each country maintains a campus location, with the main campus being in Laucala, Fiji. The various Schools, Institutes, and Centers are all organized under three faculties: Arts/Law and Education, Business and Economics, and Science/Technology and Environment. Each faculty is led by a Dean. Online distance education is a popular option available throughout the 14 campuses. A total of 200 international students were in attendance at the University of the South Pacific in 2010.
Notable Alumni: Willy Telavi (former Prime Minister of Tuvalu); David Robie (author and journalist); and Iolu Johnson Abil (President of Vanuatu)
New ZealandUniversity of Auckland
New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean which consists of 103,000 square miles broken down into two main land masses, the North Island and the South Island. The country is further organized into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities with the capital city of Wellington. There is a population of approximately 4.5 million people mainly of European descent governed under a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy.
Originally founded in 1883 as a constituent college of the University of New Zealand, the University of Auckland succeeded the University of New Zealand in 1961. The current organization of the school includes six campus locations and eight faculties with over 40,000 students in attendance. The University supports four Centers of Research Excellence, nine Research Institutes, 12 Research Units, and 37 Research Centers. Additional facilities include the McGregor Museum and the Auckland Gardens. Additionally, the school maintains cooperative agreements with 42 leading research universities in the Pacific Rim.
Notable Alumni: Helen Clark (former Prime Minister of New Zealand); Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi (Prime Minister of Samoa); and Anand Satyanand (former Governor General, New Zealand)
Papua New GuineaDivine Word University
One of the least explored areas left in the world, the 178,000 square miles of Papua New Guinea comprise the eastern half of the island of New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean, just north of Australia. Approximately 40 percent of the seven million citizens live self-sustainable natural lifestyles making the country one of the most rural in the world. The land is suspected to have uncontacted people groups as well. There are over 850 languages recognized throughout the land, 12 of which have no known living speakers.
Under the direction and leadership of the Divine Word Missionaries, the Divine Word University was established in 1996 by an Act of Parliament. Initially started as a secondary High School, the facility was recognized as an institute for higher education in 1980. Today, this national Catholic University maintains five campus locations with five faculties and one Postgraduate and Research Center. There are approximately 3,000 students enrolled in the various programs.
The independent country of Samoa occupies the western half of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Samoa itself consists of two main islands, Savai’l and Upolu, and four smaller islands, covering a total area of just over 1,000 square miles. Historically it has been held that the Lapita people settled the islands over 3,000 years ago and developed their own language and culture in the area. Today there are approximately 194,000 citizens governed under a unitary parliamentary republic with 11 administrative divisions.
The National University of Samoa is one of two institutions for higher education in the country. Founded in 1984, the academic departments and programs are organized into six faculties and two centers. Approximately 2,000 students are currently in attendance. In addition to undergraduate degree training, the University also offers technical and vocational programs. There are around 50 undergraduate programs and eight postgraduate programs available. Each program requires between three and 24 courses for completion.
Solomon IslandsSolomon Islands National University
To the east of Papua New Guinea in Oceania lays the six major islands and 900 smaller islands which comprise the Solomon Island nation. Inhabited for centuries, the 11,000 square miles were first visited by Europeans in 1568. In 1893 the land was declared a British protectorate and in 1978 the Islands declared independence. Today the 523,000 people are governed under a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. The majority of the nation sustains itself on fishing.
In 1984 legislation was drafted to combine the resources of five existing institutions, including the Solomon Islands Teachers College, the Public Administration Training School, and the Ranadi Marine Training School, into what is now known as the Solomon Islands National University which was formally recognized in 2012. The University maintains four campus locations, five schools, and two institutes in addition to a Distance Flexible Learning program. Certificates, Diplomas, and Bachelor’s degrees are available.