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UniQuest and The University of Queensland (UQ) are delivering tailored leadership courses to more than 150 delegates from Africa, the Pacific and Papua New Guinea.

UQ, in conjunction with its specialist international development company UniQuest, is currently delivering seven AusAID funded short courses in Brisbane.

The courses are part of the Australia Awards, the Australian Government’s extensive scholarship program designed to promote knowledge, educational links and enduring ties between Australia and its neighbours.

Pacific participants are attending from the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Palau, Kiribati and Papua New Guinea (PNG). African participants are from Niger, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Tunisia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Algeria, Cameroon, Liberia and Mali from Africa.

Many of the participants are high profile leaders in their own countries and include senior government officials, as well as seven Vice-Chancellors from universities in Papua New Guinea.

Ms Karen Haive, an official from the Department of Community Development, PNG, attending the Enhanced Public Policy for Pacific Islands’ Ministries of Women short course said the training course would make a valuable contribution to development and gender equity in the Pacific.

“Most of us arrived for this course with either a blank page or half filled page on Public Policy Development Processes, particularly on Women’s Development and Gender Equality... it has transformed and increased our knowledge and skills to appreciate the full picture of public policy development processes and cycle,” Ms Haive said.

UQ’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (International) Dr Anna Ciccarelli said the Development Awards short courses gave UQ academics an invaluable opportunity to work in international development.

“The University of Queensland is leveraging off UniQuest's long-term work in the Pacific as well as its experience in Africa and South East Asia to build an excellent point of difference for the University and our academics,” said Dr Ciccarelli.

“In addition, it’s an exciting opportunity to build long term linkages between UQ and future global leaders,” she said.

UniQuest International Development General Manager, Mel Dunn, said the company’s specialist development expertise and UQ’s academic, research and training excellence represent a unique combination for delivering AusAID’s short courses.

“2011 was the first year AusAID ran the Short Course Awards program and UniQuest was delighted to be awarded seven short courses for delegates from Africa, the Pacific and Papua New Guinea,” said Mr Dunn.

“It’s recognised that the private sector and universities have an important role to play in supporting Australia’s aid contributions, and UniQuest and UQ sit across these two domains.

“Our success in bringing in other private sector partners and drawing on our bilateral academic relationships will greatly contribute to the effectiveness of these courses; we also have the experience and expertise to ensure these courses remain focussed on key development imperatives,” he said.

The UQ-delivered courses run from three to nine weeks and target the agricultural, mining, governance, education, public policy and diplomacy sectors. They are being delivered by more than 21 UQ academics, many of whom are leading experts in their fields.

The courses have been tailored specifically to the participants’ requirements, with lecturers for several courses assessing participants’ requirements through pre-course visits to their countries. Post-course, the UniQuest team will work with many participants – through in-country visits and ongoing support and networking – to help them implement their new skills when they return to their home countries.

Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) course participant, Mr Peter Awuah from Ghana, is an experienced GIS practitioner. He commented that the UQ lecturers had done an excellent job of meeting the needs of all levels of students from basic to advanced GIS skills.

“There is a very good mix of lectures, practicals and field work, with field work outcomes linking back into classroom practical exercises. The new concepts I am learning will be most useful for my work in Ghana,” he said.

As well as Brisbane-based courses, UniQuest and UQ are delivering a Regional Diplomacy Training Program in Africa, as part of Australia’s commitment to supporting Africa’s development.