The University of the Sea – Université de la Mer is a partnership between UNEP/GRID Arendal, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the University of Sydney, the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Technology Sydney, Macquarie University, the University of Tokyo, the Korean Ocean Research and Development Institute, Tongji University China, the University of the South Pacific, the University of Papua New Guinea, the National Institute of Oceanography Goa and the Indonesian Research Centre for Marine Technology.
The University of the Sea is dedicated to building marine science capacity. It aims to bring together senior researchers and young local scholars to address marine science issues of direct interest to their region.
At present the University of the Sea operates in the Asia Pacific region. In 2011 the UOS worked on expanding the programme to Africa and building relationships with the International Seabed Authority and the international scientific organisation InterRidge. It is envisaged that in 2012 the UOS will begin delivering marine capacity building opportunities to developing country students in close partnership with these organisations.
Students spend up to four weeks living and working together, immersed in an environment of scientific discovery. They take away from this a feeling of shared endeavor due to a unique experience that expands their academic and cultural knowledge.
Students participate in a research programme that targets specific problems, including those unique to tropical and sub-tropical countries. The programme endeavours to give students the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge required for participation in the global debate on the use of the ocean.
The University of the Sea programme is supported by the Australian Earth Systems Science Network (through the Australian Research Council (ARC)), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and UNEP/GRID Arendal.
The selection criteria for students applying to join the University of the Sea, includes academic record, a personal statement (which addresses how they will benefit from being part of the program), and a recommendation from their university. In the final decision some consideration is also given to achieving a gender balance and a geographical spread of candidates.
Because the program is fully funded, including airfares, accommodation in port and costs onboard the ship, the ability to pay is not a deterrent for students to apply. Our experience is that the program attracts high achieving students from a wide range of cultural and scientific backgrounds. So far students from 13 Asia-Pacific countries have participated in the programme: Australia, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peoples Republic of China, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, and Timor Leste.