Solomon Islands National University (SINU) met with representatives from the Qingdao Municipal Government and Oceans University of China today for a critical dialogue concerning the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed earlier this year.

The meeting was led by Professor Transform Aqorau, Vice Chancellor of SINU, Madam Lin Bin, the Deputy Secretary-General of the CPC Qingdao Municipal Government, and Professors Li Weidong, Director of International Office, and Li Jianping, Professor and Dean of Academy of Future Ocean, both from Oceans University of China. Also in attendance were Dr Eric Katovai, Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic of SINU, and staff from the Department of Fisheries and Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.

The central element of the discussion focused on the initiation of the China-Pacific Oceans Research Center to be established in the Solomon Islands. This proposed center will serve as an ocean observation base, conducting rigorous data collection for scientific analysis. Additionally, it will act as an educational platform for marine talent cultivation, including the development of joint Masters and Ph.D. programs, as well as training on climate change, marine sciences, fisheries, and ocean carbon neutrality.

Mechanisms for international faculty exchanges, forum hosting, and symposium organisation were also outlined as pivotal functions of the center. Further deliberations were centered on the conceptualisation of a Joint Master's Degree Program in Fisheries and Oceans.

The overarching aim is to inaugurate the program by the academic year 2025, following ongoing evaluations and assessments. Designed to achieve academic rigor and global relevance, the program will encompass studies in fisheries management, oceanography, and the geopolitical implications of oceanic resources.

The commitment to closely collaborate with accreditation bodies in both the Solomon Islands and China to meet international academic standards was also agreed upon.

The meeting additionally set forth a comprehensive research agenda for the Solomon Islands, which will prioritise Environmental Sustainability, Climate Change Adaptation, Economic Development, Community Engagement, and Policy Impact.

The research will look at the sustainable management of oceanic resources, understand and mitigate the impact of changing oceanic conditions, enhance the economic value of maritime resources, and engage local communities in both research and educational initiatives. It will also strive to translate research outcomes into actionable policies, thereby fortifying governance and developmental objectives in the Solomon Islands.

In his closing remarks, Professor Transform Aqorau, Vice Chancellor of SINU, emphasised the far-reaching implications of the MoU. He stated, "This Memorandum of Understanding outlines a comprehensive and far-reaching blueprint for mutual engagement in areas that are of utmost importance to the global community: oceanography, fisheries, and the impacts of climate change. These are areas that concern not just our nations but humanity at large. They present challenges that no single institution can tackle in isolation."

Professor Aqorau further noted, "In forging this alliance, we commit to internationalizing higher education, particularly the joint Master's degree program in fisheries. As a university with strong aspirations to gain international recognition, we see this collaboration as a vital stepping stone.

"The joint program is not merely an academic exercise but an intellectual crucible where perspectives will be harmonized, cultures blended, and groundbreaking solutions to real-world challenges formulated. This partnership not only strengthens the academic repertoire of both institutions but also promises to yield enduring benefits for both nations and indeed, for the world at large."

Source: SINU