Oceania region | University of Oxford
New Zealand
Southern Alps, New Zealand
(Image credit: Shutterstock).

Oceania region


Australia and New Zealand

The extent of the links between Oxford and Oceania is demonstrated by the fast-developing set of research projects and collaborations relating to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Oxford researchers both study the continent, and collaborate extensively with researchers from the region. In Australia and New Zealand these activities cover a broad spectrum, ranging from topics such as: mortality from smoking; analysis of the causes of desertification in Australia; research collaborations in astrophysics and neuroscience. In addition, Oxford’s collaborations with Australia in the field of legal studies are particularly strong, and include both academic collaborations and exchanges, and student scholarships.

Pacific Islands

In the Pacific islands, Oxford researchers are working on a highly diverse range of projects. In zoology, studies are taking place that are monitoring the incredibly rare tool-using behaviour of the New Caledonia crow, a highly sophisticated behaviour not found anywhere else in the bird kingdom. In economics, high profile economists in the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) have been looking at the economic impacts of state failure on Pacific islands. In anthropology and medical sciences, Oxford DPhil students are undertaking field research in Naura studying the interaction of political and ecological factors on the island’s extraordinary high rates of obesity. In short, Oxford’s research links with Oceania are diverse and broad-ranging.

Oxford’s solidarity with Oceania extends far beyond shared research interests and academic pursuits. This was demonstrated in 2011 after the earthquake of February 2011 devastated the city of Christchurch including many of the University of Canterbury’s facilities. Oxford was delighted to offer 42 fully funded places to students from Canterbury University during Trinity term (April-June) 2011 to allow students to continue their studies while their city was rebuilt. Oxford and its colleges created places for 32 undergraduate and ten postgraduate students in the arts, humanities, social sciences and law.


Oxford has educated a number of Oceanians who have gone on to be prominent public figures. These include Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, the first Prime Minister (and later President) of Fiji, and, from New Zealand, Sir David Skegg, Vice Chancellor of the University of Otago; John Cornforth, MP for Taurange; and David Kirk, former CEO of Fairfax Media and former captain of the New Zealand All Blacks.

Oceania has more than 3,500 Oxford alumni, concentrated mainly in Australia and New Zealand but also further afield in a number of the Pacific Islands. With a total of 11 alumni groups across the region, these Oxonians have many opportunities to meet and interact with one another


Oxford’s links with Oceania have also produced a number of world-renowned academics, including several at Oxford today, and leaders in business.

Academics from Oceania span all disciplines and include several prominent experts. At present there are over 150 academics and research staff from the region working in Oxford. In addition to our academic staff, some of the University’s top leadership have also come from Australia and New Zealand. Sir Kenneth Clinton Wheare and John Hood, former Vice Chancellors of Oxford were from Australia and New Zealand respectively.

Oxford-Canterbury Academic Exchange Programme

In recognition of the lengthy association between the University of Oxford and the University of Canterbury, New Zealand - a link that dates back to the design of the University of Canterbury's town site, the donation of books to College House, and a series of distinguished Oxford visitors to Canterbury over the year - an academic visitor exchange programme between Oxford and Canterbury was established in 2002.

The goal of the Exchange Programme is to build on the academic links that have already been developed, and to benefit the students and staff of both universities by funding the regular visits of academic staff members. In addition to teaching and research presentations, the exchange also creates opportunities for joint Oxford-Canterbury research, and encourages the exchange of publications and academic materials.

Libraries and Museums

Oxford holds important collections of art and artefacts from Australia, New Zealand and the wider Pacific region, and a particularly impressive series of materials from the early exploration of the area is housed in Oxford’s various collections.

Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library has strong holdings of material relating to Australia and New Zealand in its collections, including manuscripts and early printed books relating to the early travellers from Europe to the southern Hemisphere; and substantial materials relating to the colonial and post-colonial history of Australia and New Zealand, ranging from diaries and letters to official publications. It also holds a considerable collection of resources relating to pacific island law and anthropology.

University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum

The University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum also hold a number of notable plants from Oceania in its geographic bed relating to the region.

Oxford University Press

The world renowned Oxford University Press has offices in Australia and New Zealand dating from April 1908. Today this branch publishes approximately 150 titles per year for the higher education, secondary, primary and trade markets. It also plays a key role in the development of educational materials for Papua New Guinea, and in conjunction with AusAID has delivered learning materials to all schools throughout this developing nation.