UWA celebrates 10 years with the Matariki Network of Universities

22 Feb 2021 | 3 mins

UWA recently celebrated 10 years as part of the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU), an international group of seven like-minded research-led institutions.

With a mission of “partnering for a better world”, the network – of which UWA is a founding member – facilitates innovative student mobility opportunities and rich research collaborations.

The name ‘Matariki’, inspired by the Māori term for the Pleiades star cluster (also known as Seven Sisters), is an apt metaphor. The Pleiades star cluster can be seen from virtually anywhere in the world – and like its namesake, the Matariki Network brings together people from around the globe.

Over the past decade, UWA has taken a leadership role in the Matariki Network’s two flagship mobility programs: the Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Programme and the Matariki Global Citizenship Programme.

The Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Programme gives Indigenous students the opportunity to spend two weeks at a partner university, learning about significant issues facing local indigenous communities, and considering how those issues may be addressed in their home country.

To date, 21 UWA students and five staff have participated in the program, and UWA has hosted a group of indigenous students from countries such as the US, Canada, and New Zealand.

Matariki Smoking Ceremony July 2017

Image: Matariki smoking ceremony, UWA, July 2017.

UWA Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Education Professor Jill Milroy said the program had created an enduring legacy for Indigenous education.

“The Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Programme has allowed UWA to consolidate its research about Indigenous-centred teaching and learning, expand its global network of indigenous scholars, and mentor next-generation indigenous scholars in teaching and learning.”

Professor Jill Milroy

UWA also plays a key role in the Matariki Global Citizenship Programme. Through the University’s McCusker Centre for Citizenship, dozens of students from around the world have embarked on meaningful internships and cross-cultural experiences. UWA student internship projects have included hands on work supporting disability rights and inclusion at Durham University and strategic communications linking voluntarism to the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the University of Otago.

Since the Matariki Network’s inception, 150 UWA students have completed exchange programs with partner universities, while UWA has welcomed 157 students from those same partners.

Student exchange hasn’t been slowed by COVID-19 – instead, the Matariki Network is now focusing on virtual mobility.

UWA quickly adapted the October 2020 and January 2021 sessions of its eight-week Summer Down Under: Research Internship Program to a virtual format. The University welcomed four students from MNU partner Durham University, and many more students from around the globe, to work with leading UWA researchers on projects such as “Genomics of Plant Pathogen Interactions” with Professor Jacqui Batley and “Bee Identification and Tracking in Video” with Professor Mark Reynolds.

Research students have also continued to benefit from the Matariki Network’s online Three Minute Thesis competition, which challenges higher degree by research students to communicate the significance of their projects in just three minutes. UWA placed first in 2019 and second in 2020.

UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Tim Colmer said the University was proud to be a member of the MNU.

“The Matariki Network of Universities brings our institutions together to collaborate in areas where collectively we can make a difference to some of the biggest challenges facing the planet – we have seven research themes including ocean health, for which UWA is the lead,” he said.

UWA is a global leader in ocean research – and in recent years it has developed and led an interdisciplinary research theme, Oceans and the Blue Economy, with Matariki Network partners.

Together, Professor Erika Techera (UWA Law School) and Professor Ryan Lowe (UWA Oceans Graduate School) hosted the first theme workshop at UWA addressing ‘Marine Extremes’ in 2017, resulting in an edited book published by Routledge in 2019. In 2019, a second well-attended workshop was held at UWA, this time focusing on ‘Energy and the Oceans’. These events brought global attention to the rich diversity and unique environment of Western Australia.

The Matariki Network comprises Durham University in the UK, Uppsala University in Sweden, Dartmouth College in the US, Queen’s University in Canada, University of Tübingen in German and University of Otago in New Zealand, along with UWA.

Learn more about the Matariki Network of Universities in Celebrating the first ten years of the Matariki Network 2010-20 [PDF].

Learn more about UWA’s international networks.

Map of Matariki Network of Universities partners

Map of Matariki Network of Universities partners

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